VCs are Expecting Crypto Market to Deliver Massively in 2019, Will Price Reflect it?

To many onlookers, the crypto market is unpredictable as the weather. No one expected the jaw-dropping Bitcoin price rally in late-2017, nor what played out afterward. Yet, a recent quip from a leading cryptocurrency investor claims there may be an underlying rhythm to this industry — a multi-year heartbeat, if you will, that is slow but consistent. As the old adage goes, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

Related Reading: Will History Repeat? Bitcoin Price Patterns Repeating Previous Market Cycle

Crypto Industry May Move In Four Year Cycles

After a painstaking 12 months, 2019 has finally arrived. In terms of valuations, 2018 was a dismal year for cryptocurrencies en-masse, as the aggregate value of all digital assets fell by ~87%. However, many optimistic industry enthusiasts have applied the cliché — “new year, new me” — to crypto. And while much of this is unbridled hope from dreamers, infused with copious amounts of so-called “hopium,” maybe this optimism isn’t all too zany after all.

Chris Burniske, a partner at Placeholder Ventures, an investment group working to “decentralize data, wealth, and power,” recently took to Twitter to drop a mind-boggling message. Burniske, who wrote a primer on crypto, fittingly named Cryptoassets, noted that this industry may be moving in four-year cycles, oscillating between crashes and frenzies.

Drawing attention to the crypto space’s status during 2013 through 2016, he noted that the passing of each year hails in a new developmental stage. The four stages are as follows: frenzy & promise, crash & under-deliver, consolidate & ship, lift & refine for adoption.

By this logic and pseudo-schedule, the crypto sector just left a year rife with under-delivery and crashes — accentuated by internal struggles at a handful of preeminent startups, like Blockfolio, ShapeShift, Bitmain, Huobi, and ConsenSys. Although Burniske noted that his comments were an over-generalization, the former ARK Invest executive noted that he expects for prominent projects to ship product in 2019, just like how Ethereum launched in 2015.

The Placeholder partner added that his followers should keep an eye on Bitcoin “and friends” heading into 2020 — the year of liftoff and adoption — explaining that development is “much richer than many realize.” Burniske didn’t elaborate on this comment, but this could be in reference to the network’s booming fundamentals, which haven’t been reflected in the asset’s fiat valuation. In fact, it could be said that fundamentals were a contrarian indicator for the Bitcoin price, as downward pressure barely abated in 2018.

2019: The Year For Consolidation & Delivery

Burniske isn’t the only industry insider that expects for promising products, platforms, and services, to go crypto’s version of mainstream during fiscal 2019. Per previous reports from NewsBTC, Kyle Samani, the managing partner at Multicoin Capital, a Texas-based crypto fund with a $75 million capital injection, told Business Insider that he expects notable platforms to launch in 2019.

Samani first drew attention to decentralized exchanges (DEXs), noting that Binance’s newfangled platform, slated to launch into beta in Q1 or Q2, may catalyze a revolution for this innovative form of trading. The Multicoin Capital executive explained that once Binance successfully launches its DEX and in-house blockchain, the startup’s competitors may follow, launching platforms of their own.

Samani then noted that he expects a number of “high profile blockchain products,” which are likely to attract a mass of institutional and retail users, to go live. He specifically drew attention to Tari, an open-source venture built on Monero and backed by Riccardo Spagni. With Monero-based code, Tari will be able to facilitate the issuance and management of non-fungible tokens, like entertainment tickets, loyalty points, and video game items — colossal markets that crypto could easily tap.

Fred Wilson echoed this sentiment, explaining that unfulfilled promises from 2017 will begin to get fulfilled in 2019. Wilson, the co-founder of Union Square Ventures, exclaimed that he expects for big name projects, like Filecoin and Algorand, to begin to ship. The investor added that he expects for Cosmos, a yet-to-be-released smart contract platform, to begin to eat up a portion of Ethereum’s market share.

Bunriske’s recent inquisitive tweet storm comes just days after the leading investor claimed that the mainstream consciousness has almost lost sight of Bitcoin. Yet, if Burniske’s pseudo-prediction comes true, the public may begin to acknowledge this nascent industry yet again, but not in the context of a bull rally.

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Analyst: Bitcoin to Bottom Out At Below $3,000 But it Could Easily Achieve 6-Figure Price

Crypto’s most fervent diehards have often been lambasted for their Bitcoin (BTC) price forecasts. Blockchain project promoter John McAfee, the eccentric millionaire behind the cybersecurity company that shares his surname, called for BTC to surpass $1 million by 2020’s end, claiming that he would consume his family jewels if the prediction doesn’t come to past. And while there’s a lot on the table — literally — his irrational claim, not backed by any form of technical or fundamental analysis, has put the now-crypto insider in a tough spot.

Yet, there are analysts out there that have tried to rationalize ludicrous BTC forecasts. And one such commentator recently took to Twitter, conveying his thoughts on why the foremost cryptocurrency may eventually burst out of its quintuple digit cell.

Related Reading: Big Predictions for 2019: Bitcoin Heading for New All Time High

The $333,000 Bitcoin Prediction

Weeks ago, as reported by NewsBTC previously, Filb Filb, a pseudonymous crypto trader known for conveying some zany price predictions, took to his Twitter feed to post a single chart, released in tandem with a nebulous message — “this time it will be different.” The chart, which highlighted Bitcoin’s entire history as a liquid asset, accentuated the asset’s multi-year cycles, seemingly bred from BTC’s issuance schedule.

Basing his chart on historical analysis, Filb drew lines that indicated that BTC could bottom anywhere between $2,500 and $3,100 in the following 12 months. It was noted that if the cards play out correctly, the cryptocurrency could breach $10,000 for the first time since late-2017, starting a run to the auspicious $333,000 price point.

While Bitcoin’s historical price action lined up with this pseudo-prediction, no fundamentals were explained. And as such, skepticism ensued. Yet, nearly four weeks later, Filb has taken to Twitter again, releasing a 14-part thread on why his $333,000 call makes sense from a fundamental point of view.

Crypto Analyst Rationalizes Forecast

In a recent tweet storm, built on the premise of coming “up with a demo as to [prove] how BTC could easily achieve a six-figure valuation,” Filb laid out a number of fundamental inputs, including Bitcoin’s supply & rate of adoption, total global financial transactions, and worldwide debt.

After combining data sets and crunching an array of numbers, the trader, who sports over 10,000 followers on Twitter, determined that new BTC supply is “positively correlated with price.” The trader added that Bitcoin likely processes a minimum of 0.03% of all global transactions, citing an estimate that one billion financial processes are completed each day.

Doing some napkin math, taking the swelling worldwide debt sum of $274 trillion and combining it with BTC’s current level of adoption, Filb determined that a fair valuation for Bitcoin is ~$74 billion. Claiming that four million BTC is lost to the world, likely referring to a Bitstamp report on the matter, Filb then calculated that the cryptocurrency should be valued at $5,500 per unit, meaning that the broader market is currently undervaluing the asset by 37%.

However, that’s not to say that the cryptocurrency can’t see its use swell in the years to come. And this didn’t slip under Filb’s radar, as the trader went on to impose this model on a “long form valuation” chart for Bitcoin, which took all the aforementioned factors and variables into account.

By his logic, considering the Internet industry’s historical growth cycles of staggered booms and busts, he illustrated trends that accentuated that if all pans out for the world’s first blockchain, BTC could eventually enter the million dollar range.

Yet, remaining cautiously optimistic, Filb noted that his model is inherently flawed, even quipping that there are areas “where you could drive a bus through it.” Regardless, he made it clear that the cryptocurrency market will be in for the ride of its life, even if his model doesn’t click with investors worldwide. He even stated, “when the herd comes… hold on to your pants.”

Filb isn’t the only industry insider who has attempted to bring rationality and cold, hard numbers to price predictions. Trace Mayer, one of the earliest Bitcoiners and an advocate for anti-establishment movements, explained that with the advent of Lightning Network and other innovative protocols, coupled with the eventual influx of Wall Streeters, BTC will become the de-facto go-to investment for any intelligent consumer. Mayer even quipped that holding BTC will easily outpace an IRA or 401k, as the latter investments may get nationalized over time, or get printed straight out of existence (hyperinflation).

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Celebrities May Be Scooping Up Millions Worth Of Bitcoin

Bitcoin started out as a grassroots movement. At first, developers, anarchists, and the internet zany were the first to adopt the cryptocurrency. Yet, over time, the crypto community has devolved into an array of demographics, with millions of individuals from across the globe investing time, money, and brainpower to bolster this industry. Recently, reports arose that even celebrities — and over a dozen at that — may be scooping up millions of dollars worth of BTC, and/or investing boatloads of capital into up-and-coming blockchain projects.

Leave it to the celebrities to hop on the gravy train.

Celebrities Have Experienced Bitcoin FOMO Too

Celebrities, like common Joes, are simply humans. That means that they too are subject to FOMO. And over the years, especially as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies ran several times, this Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) quickly influenced celebrities to make a foray into this nascent industry. Per a recent Business Insider report breaking down celebrities’ involvement in crypto, at least thirteen hotshots, who hail from the music, feature film, fashion industry, and — surprise — tech industry, could be holding hefty bags of the world’s favorite digital asset.

In 2013, as BTC surmounted its long-standing double-digit boundary, Snoop Dogg began to sell his albums for 0.3 BTC a pop. While the foray’s impact was quantified, Snoop set a ball rolling that hasn’t stopped since. Just a year after Snoop’s attempt at taking advantage of crypto-enabled e-commerce, British pop star Mel B sold her 2014 Christmas single, “For Once In My Life,” for BTC via CloudHashing. The former Spice Girl purportedly claimed that she’s enamored with the ability “new technology” has to make humanity better.

But, celebrities’ involvement in this sector has gone far deeper than pseudo-guerilla marketing through the acceptance of Bitcoin. Madonna purportedly joined hands with Facebook and Ripple for an online fundraiser. Johnny Depp, the eccentric yet extremely successful actor, became a partner at TaTaTu, a blockchain startup focused on providing consumers with rewards for content interaction.

In the realm of sports, Lionel Messi, who sports a jaw-dropping 107 million followers on Instagram, once became a brand ambassador for Sirin Labs, an Israeli startup with visions of providing blockchain-centric smartphones. It isn’t clear how much Sirin paid the soccer powerhouse, but Messi’s involvement in the upstart likely didn’t run cheap.

And while his billionaire peers are mostly skeptical of Bitcoin, Microsoft founder Bill Gates once lauded blockchain technology, ballyhooing BTC’s decentralized, cost-effective, and borderless nature in a Bloomberg interview. While has since turned his back on the crypto realm, Microsoft has kept its eye on the ball, accepting BTC for its online store, while embarking on a number of blockchain forays.

Bill Gates at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting at The Shertaon New York Hotel, Photo From Shutterstock

But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. As reported by NewsBTC previously, Floyd Mayweather, one of the most well-recognized faces in boxing, was recently indited by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for promoting fraudulent, shady ICOs without disclosing his business relationships. Regardless, the fact that he made a conscious decision to overtly back a blockchain project indicates that maybe, Mayweather has a vested interest in BTC. Yet, since the regulatory imbroglio, Mayweather hasn’t made a mention of Bitcoin.

Crypto & Rap Worlds Collide

Interestingly, crypto has found a home in the hearts of rappers and hip hop artists across the globe. As aforementioned, Snoop, the American stoner that has garnered clout over his decades, first sold albums for BTC, before appearing at Ripple’s Consensus carouse. Mr. Worldwide, better known as Pitbull, has also dipped his feet into the proverbial crypto pond, once revealing that he would be launching a music-related blockchain project. More recently, a featured artist on Eminem’s Kamikaze album, Royce Da 5’9 name-checked Bitcoin.

However, there have been some fakers, if you will. In early-2018, 50 Cent took to Instagram to brag that he made millions of dollars of paper profits from a 700 BTC stash he garnered in 2014. Yet, in an expose, 50 Cent was revealed to have sold the stash, worth $14 million at BTC’s all-time high, in 2014. Woops.

Just recently, as reported by NewsBTC, Soulja “Drako” Boy, a Chicago-based artist of “Crank That” fame, regened on his passion for the cryptocurrency world. In an interview with Cheddar, the rapper, who released a track titled “Bitcoin” in October last year, claimed that cryptocurrency’s glory days are now in the rearview mirror. The American artist noted that “it’s a gamble,” before adding that the potential returns are lackluster, as too many individuals know of Bitcoin now.

While none of this is conclusive proof that these stars are purchasing millions worth of BTC or other cryptocurrencies, the endorsements have likely become tailwinds for this industry. Regardless, many still hold onto hope that Messi, Gates, and other high net-worth, well-known individuals are buying Bitcoin for the long haul.

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There Won’t Ever Be Only One Crypto, Says “True Bitcoin Maximalist”

Since alternative crypto assets began to garner traction in recent years, some of the Bitcoin (BTC) community’s most fervent leaders have come out to denounce “altcoins,” as they’re adamant that BTC is the crème de la crème. In fact, some so-called “maximalists” have taken their raison d’etre to extremes, claiming that any blockchain project accompanied by a token is an outright scam, joke, knockoff, or mischievous cash grab.

As such, this subset of industry participants has claimed that crypto assets en-masse, save for BTC, will crumble to zilch over time. Yet, a blockchain developer of four years, who claims he’s the “only true Bitcoin maximalist left,” claims that the radical mindset is baseless, adding that a handful of cryptocurrencies will always exist.

Related Reading:  Charlie Lee’s ‘Own a Bitcoin Before Buying Altcoins’ Comment Sparks Crypto Tribalism

Crypto Market Demands More Than Bitcoin Can Provide

Bryce Weiner, a pro-crypto software engineer that formerly held stints at Reuters and Lockheed Martin, recently took to Twitter to tout why he doesn’t believe in pure, unbridled Bitcoin maximalism. Weiner, who has become a well-followed industry commentator, noted that from a fundamental point of view, consumers demand more from cryptocurrency and related technologies “than Bitcoin was EVER designed to provide.”

He added that from a market standpoint, BTC is not only hard to mine but to purchase too — likely referring to the network’s high hashrate and inherent nature as a Store of Value (SoV). As such, considering the abundance, ease-of-access, and multi-faceted use cases of altcoins, demand is always likely to exist for cryptocurrencies (other than BTC). So, going against the “one ring to rule them all” narrative, Weiner simply stated that there will never be “only one” cryptocurrency.

The AltMarket founder went on to give Bitcoin’s supply limit some flak, noting that what gives cryptocurrencies “true financial power” is the ability to mint your own money, before subsequently lauding the Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism.

Weiner then added that those marginalized “stand the most to benefit from this technology,” and as such, Proof of Work-based coins, like Bitcoin, are more targeted towards those that have “privilege.” On the other hand, staking-eligible coins and tokens will see adoption by the less privileged, creating further demand for alternative cryptocurrencies.

The blockchain developer explained that the fact that altcoins haven’t capitulated to zero indicates that “the world hasn’t seen its fill of [cryptocurrencies] yet.” Although Weiner painted a somewhat optimistic picture for alternative cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum and XRP, that’s not to say that Bitcoin can’t begin to regain market share.

Bitcoin Has And Will Continue To Outperform In Bear Markets

Since BTC entered a bear market in early-2018, the flagship cryptocurrency has begun to outperform its counterparts on the lower rungs of the proverbial crypto ladder. In fact, over 2018, Bitcoin’s market dominance rose from an all-time low of 32.5% to 58% by mid-December, as a mass of crypto assets tumbled into an abyss.

And as the bear season hasn’t come to a head, pundits have predicted that Bitcoin will continue to eat at the aggregate value of all cryptocurrencies. Per previous reports from NewsBTC, A.T Kearney, a multinational management consulting firm, recently divulged that BTC could occupy sixty-six percent of crypto’s entire market capitalization during 2019. Backing its ~66% target, the company stated that altcoins have “lost their luster,” citing the growing presence of “risk aversion tactics” employed by retail investors. Kearney’s researchers are likely referring to investors’ growing penchant for holding their capital in Bitcoin, one of the only cryptocurrencies that have proven itself as 100% bonafide.

Galaxy Digital founder Mike Novogratz, along with Fundstrat’s Tom Lee, also believe that Bitcoin’s share of this asset class will continue to swell. Novogratz, a former Wall Street giant, claimed that he didn’t expect for “BTC dominance to pull back any time soon,” claiming that the institutional focus on Bitcoin will put the asset in an advantageous prediction.

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Don’t Fret! Bitcoin Has Undergone A Decade Of Sustained Growth

When Bitcoin was first launched in 2009, barely any knew about the project, created by pseudonymous programmer Satoshi Nakamoto. The few that did know of the cryptocurrency either hated it with a burning passion or loved it for its long-term potential. And while the former group picked up steam, with mainstream media bashing cryptocurrencies via FUD-ridden articles, simple data shows that BTC, along with the underlying network has continued to outperform, even amid a number of broader downturns.

Related Reading: Why Does Mainstream Media Spread So Much Crypto FUD?

Bitcoin Lows Still Increasing Year-Over-Year

Per data gathered and conveyed by Rhythm Trader, a pseudonymous crypto enthusiast, trader, and researcher that touts insightful tweets, Bitcoin’s yearly lows are up (nearly) consistently year-over-year. Save for the slight hiccup during 2014’s bear season, which was accentuated by Mt. Gox debacle, the asset’s yearly low has swelled exponentially as every 12 months have passed.

In fact, in 2012, Bitcoin’s yearly low was at a mere $4. Now, the same figure is at $3,200 — a jaw-dropping 80,000% gain over the course of seven years.

With this in mind, while also considering anecdotal evidence, Rhythm concluded that Bitcoin has effectively undergone a whole decade of sustained growth. But BTC’s value isn’t the only crypto-related statistic to have boomed within the same time period. Per data from Blockchain.com, hashrate has swelled from ten terahashes per second in 2012 to 38 million terahashes today. The number of Bitcoin transactions has also swelled, with there now being approximately 250,000 processes on the blockchain each and every day.

Crypto’s Fundamentals Thrived In 2018’s Rout 

Per previous reports from NewsBTC, even amid last year’s rout, which saw cryptocurrencies tumble by upwards of 80%, industry fundamentals continued to outperform.

In an extensive report, Jameson Lopp, the chief of technology at crypto solutions provider Casa, explained that “by any metric [other than price], the [Bitcoin] system is improving and growing.” Among a number of other bullish statistics, the long-time industry participant revealed that the number of BTC-supported ATMs rose by 100% in 2018, while the network’s hashrate doubled. This all came as the cryptocurrency’s community swelled on Reddit, sparking discussion regarding the propagation of scaling protocols, namely SegWit and the Lightning Network.

Crypto also saw a strong 2018 from institutions. Bakkt was unveiled, while similar ventures were announced by Fidelity Investments and ErisX’s backers. Over-the-counter desks also became an industry trend, as exchanges and other industry service providers tried to capitalize on an influx of institutionally-sourced greenbacks. In recent months, Coinbase, Binance, and BitGo have all made forays into the OTC/dark pool sector.

And many believe that this underlying thematic development will continue into 2019. Jeff Berwick, the so-called Dollar Vigilante, recently told BlockTV that he expects for 2019 to hail in Wall Street greenbacks, which will “change the game completely.” Berwick stated that as institutional capital floods in, crypto valuations will “explode” en bloc, as there are presumed trillions waiting on the sidelines.

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Soulja Boy: Bitcoin & Crypto’s Glory Days Now In The Rearview Mirror

In October of 2018, as Bitcoin found itself above $6,000, Soulja “Drako” Boy, the American rapper of “Crank That” fame, released a banger simply titled “Bitcoin.” In the piece of music, a track in Soulja’s Young Drako album, the Chicago-based artist spat fire, so to speak, about the world’s first cryptocurrency.

While many first assumed that Soulja was going to lambast the crypto asset, the rapper didn’t. Instead, Drako went on to reference crypto’s “Lambo culture,” quipping that foreign (cars) sit in his driveway. He even made a mention of Litecoin, while hinting at his addiction to checking Blockfolio incessantly. It is likely that Soulja’s lyrics were fantastical, made in an attempt to garner some semblance of clout. Yet, the fact that he did much more than name-drop Bitcoin was optimistic nonetheless.

Yet, just months later, he has seemingly turned his back towards cryptocurrencies.

Related Reading: Eminem’s Latest Album Kamikaze Name-Checks Bitcoin

Soulja Boy ‘Tells Em’ That Bitcoin Is A Gamble

In an interview with Cheddar, an up-and-coming Business Outlet, the tided-up Soulja, now the proud showrunner of a semi-business, talked about Tesla, flying cars, other technological advancements, and Bitcoin. Drako, who recently came under fire from Nintendo, claimed that cryptocurrency’s glory days are now in the rearview mirror.

The American artist noted that “it’s a gamble,” before adding that the potential returns are lackluster, as too many individuals know of Bitcoin now.

Weird how Soulja is enamored with futuristic concepts, like Tesla’s innovations, flying cars, esports, and recreational marijuana, but against a paradigm-shifting fintech innovation.

The Bitcoin Renegers

Soulja isn’t the only crypto enthusiast to have reneged on Bitcoin, as it were. Recently, NewsBTC reported that Erik Finman, deemed the youngest crypto millionaire, had lost faith in the flagship cryptocurrency. In an interview with MarketWatch, Finman, who abstained from college in pursuit of becoming an entrepreneur, explained that the biggest cryptocurrency is “dead.”

Finman chalked up his inflammatory comment to the fact that Bitcoin’s community is “too fragmented,” likely touching on the number of hard forks that have befallen the network and its spawn. The entrepreneur, known for his rambunctious social media habits, elaborated:

 “There’s tons of infighting I just don’t think it will last… It may have a bull market or two left in it, but long-term, its dead.”

Interestingly, the teenage investor added that he sees potential in Ethereum and ZCash, touting their innovative offerings, namely smart contracts and privacy. But, he did fire a shot at Litecoin, noting that the Charlie Lee-backed project is about to disappear, just like the Sun setting on the horizon. Finman made it clear that Litecoin won’t rise tomorrow morning.

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Crypto Investor: Bitcoin May Retest $20,000 With Next Wave Of Adoption

Since Bitcoin (BTC) breached the monumental $20,000 price milestone and subsequently crashed, crypto investors en-masse have sought to determine when the asset would retest five-digits. While an array of crypto pundits have speculated, throwing their zany predictions into the crockpot that is Twitter, the date of the next parabolic rally’s commencement is still elusive. Yet, a majority of industry commentators, many of which have a vested interest in BTC, are sure that the flagship cryptocurrency has further to run.

Alistair Milne, the chief investment officer at Digital Currency Fund, touched on this thought process via recently-posted social media comments, in which he stated that Bitcoin accentuates an “asymmetric” risk profile.

Related Reading: Crypto Fund: “Antifragile” Bitcoin Profits From Chaos

If Bitcoin Runs Again, FOMO “Will Be Larger Than Ever”

Milne, a Monte Carlo-based, crypto-friendly entrepreneur, took to Twitter on Saturday to remark on why he’s “still bullish” on Bitcoin, which was beaten to hell and back over 2018. Milne, who sports over 62,000 followers on Twitter, noted that earliest investors in BTC used to speculate that the asset was an “asymmetric investment opportunity.”

Now, as made apparent by comments from Mark Yusko and Anthony Pompliano of Morgan Creek, Bitcoin’s asymmetry has become a reality, not just a quixotic dream. Milne touched on this, explaining that now that there’s more regulatory certainty/clarity surrounding cryptocurrencies, coupled with the fact that BTC has tumbled by upwards of 80% from its all-time high, “the asymmetric opportunity is absolutely explicit.”

More specifically, likely referring to the dichotomy between crypto analysts’ forecasts, the Digital Currency Fund C-suite member noted that BTC may continue to drop “and/or eventually retest its all-time high… at a minimum.”

He explained that each wave of adoption, with 2017 being the most recent, is an “order of magnitude bigger than the last.” As such, if crypto asset valuations start to run again, the increased number of consumers, coupled with exponentially increasing “price expectations of “HODL’ers,” will push BTC above and beyond $20,000. Milne’s pseudo-prediction wasn’t only chalked up to the number of industry participants, as the Monaco-based investor went on to touch on industry fundamentals.

Rebutting a recent quip from Chris Burniske, a partner at Placeholder Ventures, that the mainstream consciousness has lost track of Bitcoin, Milne noted that the asset has achieved “mainstream awareness.” So, when BTC shows signs of life, monumental amounts of FOMO will begin to show its lovely face. Milne added that the institutional groundwork that is getting laid will also help propel BTC to new heights.

Don’t Doubt Gold 2.0

In subsequent comments, Milne, a self-proclaimed altcoin skeptic, added that Bitcoin has also seen its Store of Value (SoV) proposition become more apparent. More specifically, he noted that Bitcoin’s investors are now “very aware that BTC is like trading gold with 100x leverage,” along with the fact that the flagship cryptocurrency’s inflation rate will be lower than that of the precious metal. And, as “no one appears to doubt the usefulness of gold,” Milne added that they shouldn’t doubt the potential of BTC, the de-facto digital version of the asset under Fort Knox’s care.

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Crypto Startups Forked Out $878,000 To White Hats In 2018

Bitcoin may have been dubbed the “world’s most secure transaction settlement layer” by Anthony Pompliano, but the industry surrounding the protocol may not be all too secure. Case in point, crypto startups have forked out over $878,000 in bounty to white hat hackers in 2018, specifically for solving bugs that slipped under the radar.

Crypto Startups Awarded $878,000 To “Goody Two Shoes” Hackers

The Next Web’s Hard Fork column recently reported that over the course of 2018, blockchain firms awarded $878,504 to goody too shoes hackers for rectifying bugs. Block.one, the company behind the crypto juggernaut in EOS, forked out upwards of 60% of the aforementioned sum. Considering that the startup raked in an approximated $4 billion for its EOS token offering, one of the most hyped cryptocurrencies of all-time, it makes sense why Block.one awarded $534,500 to white hats.

Interestingly Coinbase, the seemingly unhackable $8 billion upstart, comes in behind Block.one with $290,381 in paid bounties. But, HackerOne, the cybersecurity platform that compiled the data, didn’t divulge how much of that sum was a result of 2018 bugs, as Coinbase purportedly began its disclosure program in 2014. Justin Sun-headed Tron, which recently surpassed a number of pertinent milestones, has found itself behind Coinbase, allowing white hats to score $76,200.

Yet these quintuple and sextuple figures are edge cases, as a HackerOne spokesperson told Hard Fork that “the average bounty [paid] for blockchain companies in 2018 was $1,490, that is higher than the Q4 platform average of around $900.”

Still Vulnerable 

While many crypto projects talk a big game, the bottom line is that many blockchains and cryptocurrency-friendly startups remain vulnerable. As reported by NewsBTC in early-August, Altex, a lesser-known crypto asset exchange, saw its ARQ stash get looted. The platform claimed that it “lost a big amount,” specifically due to a bug that hails from the Monero codebase.

Just two months later, Pigeoncoin (PGN) fell victim to an odd inflation bug, CVE-2018-17144, that allowed a bad actor to whip up 235 million PGN within a day’s time. Interestingly, the bugged line of code comes from the Bitcoin protocol. The issue has since been patched by Bitcoin Core (the software) developers, but this event still shocked consumers en-masse.

Ground-breaking bugs aren’t limited to the small-cap cryptocurrencies. In July, SlowMist, a Chinese cybersecurity firm, claimed that an anonymous user managed to double spend 694 Tether (USDT). According to SlowMist, a transactor was able to gain credit for 694 USDT on an exchange without sending the funds. Upon digging, it was discovered that the issue was the fault of the victimized exchange. Dacoinminister, a founder of the Omni Protocol, which Tether is based on, wrote:

“It appears that what happened here is that an exchange wasn’t checking the valid flag on transactions. They accepted a transaction with valid=false (which they should not have), and then the second “double spend” transaction had valid=true, which they also accepted.”

Regardless of where this problem originated from, the three aforementioned cases only accentuate the fact that this industry remains nascent. So, this industry’s developers still have a ways to go until crypto is spick and span, and ready for worldwide consumption.

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Amazon (AMZN) Posts Record Holiday Sales To Outperform FAANG Over Xmas

Although Amazon (AMZN) remains on thin ice, especially as equity markets continue to toss and turn, the world-renowned Nasdaq stock performed its FAANG counterparts over Xmas week. Many analysts have chalked up its relatively strong performance to booming holiday sales data.

Amazon Booms Over Xmas Week

Holiday seasons are retail stocks’ home rink, so to speak. Holiday cheer, coupled with notable agnostic and non-agnostic celebrations, pushes consumers to buy copious amount of product. This year, it seems that Amazon was primarily the back-end of the holiday-induced retail influx. Citing a company statement, The Motley Fool claims that past weeks saw the Seattle-headquartered firm process “more items worldwide than ever before.” Moreover, the giant purportedly sold more in-house products (Fire, Kindle, Echo, etc.) than holiday 2017. Amazon also hinted that its Prime business is booming, noting that one billion items were shipped to members over holiday 2018.

Analysts have claimed that this sales data pushed AMZN higher over Xmas week. In fact, from the past week’s trough to peak, AMZN is up 11.6%. This gain is notable, especially considering Alphabet’s (GOOGL) +6.4%, Apple’s (AAPL) +6.4%, and Facebook’s (FB) +8.1% performance in the same context (trough to peak).

However, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows over in Amazon’s camp. CNBC recently reported that AMZN is performing dismally in fiscal Q4 of 2018. So poor that the stock is on track to post its worst quarterly percentage loss since 2008’s Great Recession. And while preliminary holiday sales data could have been the firm’s savior, the relief its release provided is likely just a flash in the pan. This might be for good reason too.

In the third quarter, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s cloud computing branch, didn’t swell at the rate pundits predicted. This lackluster growth saw AWS, an (often) rapidly growing arm in the overarching Amazon conglomerate, rake in revenues that missed the mark.

CNBC touted the idea that Amazon’s shoddy performance in Europe can also be a factor behind AMZN’s harrowing quarterly performance. IMRG, a U.K.-based online retail group, recently reported lethargic year-over-year revenue growth for over-Internet purchases. The consortium specifically cited “weaker-than-expected revenue outlooks” from ASOS and Sports Direct, but it can be assumed that Brits are also putting a pause on their Amazon spending as well.

Crypto Proponents Paint Harrowing Picture For Equity Markets

While holiday cheer blessed AMZN with its presence, the crypto industry hasn’t done as well. On Christmas Day, the aggregate value of all cryptocurrencies fell by $16 billion, which came after a double-digit (pre-)Santa Claus rally that had traders stating that a bull run was around the corner.

Related Reading: Crypto Markets Beat a Retreat at Christmas, $16 Billion Dumped

And while crypto continues to struggle, a number of decentralists have exclaimed that digital assets, like Bitcoin, will outperform U.S. indices over 2019. Travis Kling, the founder of Ikigai Fund, recently drew attention to the fact that Bitcoin was birthed during the commencement of globally-coordinated quantitative easing (QE) — “the largest monetary experiment [of all time].” In Kling’s eyes, it is only logical that traditional equities have stumbled as QE has started to lag, catalyzed by a shift in strategy utilized by international monetary incumbents.

Keeping all this in mind, Kling noted that there “is a significant chance [that] crypto is the best performing asset class in 2019.” This isn’t any old baseless claim, as the Ikigai founder laid out his reasoning for this outlook in a recent TD Ameritrade interview. As reported by NewsBTC previously, Kling stated that crypto assets, namely Bitcoin, give consumers “the ability to opt-out of the largest monetary experiment of human history,” as it is a “non-sovereign digital money” that transcends shortcomings in traditional markets.

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Ethereum Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin Rebuts Criticism From Bitcoin Advocate

Although Ethereum is one of the most well-recognized projects in this budding industry, it has undoubtedly gained notoriety in some circles of the cryptocurrency industry. While many have kept their apprehension self-contained, one gritty cynic took to Twitter to speak his mind, claiming that ETH is best kept a “science experiment.” Yet, Vitalik Buterin, arguably the most notable co-founder of Ethereum, released a long-winded response that aimed to debunk the critic’s conjectures.

Bitcoin Investor Bashes Ethereum

On Friday, Tuur Demeester, an altcoin cynic, Bitcoin proponent, and investor, compiled his years of skepticism towards Ethereum, issuing a 50-part Twitter thread on the matter. Through his scathing messages, Demeester, the founder of Adamant Capital, a so-called “Bitcoin Alpha Fund,” conveyed a multitude of reasons why he’s skeptical of the project.

In his eyes, Ethereum’s underlying architecture and culture is the stark opposite of Bitcoin’s. Yet, the former project is apparently still seeking to achieve decentralization and immutability, while becoming a store of value, an asset issuance platform, and a smart contract facilitator. Demeester sees these unbridled ambitions as non-sensical, explaining the project is a “science experiment at best,” before quipping that its ~$15 billion valuation is too high.

Along with these overarching criticisms, the critic also claimed that the project’s scaling prospects, especially with sharding and Proof of Stake (PoS), are dismal. Demeester noted that nothing gets delivered on time, claiming that the integration of sharding is a “pipe dream,” and that PoS is fundamentally flawed. The Adamant Capital chief even added that the draft Correct-By-Construction Casper whitepaper was lackluster, specifically citing an “unmerciful peer review” from “reputable developers.”

Coalescing his points into a single comment, the Bitcoin advocate flat-out stated that Ethereum is the “Yahoo of our day — an unscalable ‘blue chip’ cryptocurrency.”

Related Reading: Crypto Developments Aplenty at Devcon4, Serenity Among Them

Vitalik Buterin Didn’t Take The Criticism Lying Down

And while Demeester’s comments festered in the mind of the crypto community for a day, on Saturday, Vitalik Buterin made it clear that he wasn’t going to take the criticism lying down. Buterin, a Russian-Canadian coder extraordinaire and long-time Bitcoin community member, took to Ethereum’s official subreddit to release a point-by-point refutation of the critic’s qualms.

Tuur’s criticism discussion thread from ethereum

The developer first claimed that he finds Ethereum’s culture “far saner [than that of Bitcoin],” but joked that he’s evidently biased on that front. Commenting on the “science experiment” quip, Buterin noted that this isn’t a valid argument, potentially touching on the sentiment that at this stage, all blockchain projects are still fleshed-out prototypes. Buterin even rebutted Demeester’s claims that on-scale scaling for Ethereum is nothing more than a quixotic dream, writing:

“The core principles [of sharding] have been known for years, the core design for nearly a year, and details for months, with implementations on the way. Sure, sharding is not yet finished. Though more incremental stuff has been going well, eg. uncle rates are at near record lows despite very high chain usage.”

In closing, Buterin claimed that Demeester skipped over “the progress that the Ethereum community has made in expanding and professionalizing,” even in terms of scaling protocols that could eventually turn the project on its head. And on the matter of PoS qualms, the cryptocurrency savant said that many objections to this consensus mechanism “are cultural, not technical,” subsequently hinting that having a culture that’s fine with tradeoffs is part of Ethereum’s strengths.

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Bitcoin Is The Answer: Paypal Bans Cybersecurity News Outlet

To many, Bitcoin is a censorship-resistant, decentralized, immutable, and borderless transactional tool that transcends centralized boundaries. But for many Westerners, these inherent features aren’t something that’s all too useful in day-to-day life. However, with the rise of Internet censorship and anti-“radical” narratives, some believe that the need for decentralized mediums of value and information cannot come fast enough.

Related Reading: Bitcoin Acceptance: The Changing Face of Mainstream Media Coverage

Paypal Purges The Hacker News’ Accounts

On Saturday morning, reports arose that The Hacker News (THN), a trusted, world-renowned outlet for cybersecurity news, had all of its Paypal accounts shut down. THN took to its Twitter feed, which sports 514,000 followers, to convey the news.

The outlet claimed that Paypal, permanently banned its Paypal accounts without mentioning a specific rationale. Paypal even purportedly rubbed salt on THN’s wound, so to speak, claiming that it would be holding wallet funds for 180 days, failing to cite a reason yet again. After some back and forth, the financial services company explained that “specific reasons for such a decision is proprietary & it is not released,” skirting THN’s inquiry for the third time.

Bitcoin Is The Answer

As this news broke, spreading across the Twitter landscape like wildfire, the cryptosphere immediately took to THN’s side, claiming that the bans were non-sensical and censorship at its worst. Simultaneously, a number of leading Bitcoiners took some time to double-down on their aversion to the centralized establishment. Matt Odell, a Bitcoin proponent and cryptographer, claimed that when there’s nowhere left to turn, BTC is always there.

Marty Bent, a crypto-centric media creator, explained that payment processors have begun to lose their minds, likely referencing the increase in digital censorship. Bent added that it’s time to “level up” by the way of Bitcoin, which will leave the “power drunk companies” in the dust.

Other prominent industry commentators and crypto-friendly startups have also come out to laud Bitcoin. NVK, a pseudonymous decentralist, claimed that using, buying, and spreading the good name of Bitcoin, as it were, will lead to victory (presumably over the centralized powers that be). Rui Gomes, a developer at Tim Draper-backed OpenNode, claimed that case of seeming censorship only accentuates Bitcoin’s underlying value proposition.

This recent development comes just days after Patreon, a platform that allows consumers to give back to creators, banned Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor and prominent political commentator, for pushing ideas that purportedly weren’t in step with Patreon’s terms of service. Both of these bans, whether issued in malintent or otherwise, only underscore the fact that cryptocurrencies have value. But, the public at large hasn’t acknowledged this fact just yet, as they remain trapped in traditional systems, failing to comprehend the power of decentralization.

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Huobi Chain Releases Whitepaper Amid “Crypto Winter”

While 2018 has undoubtedly slowed the crypto industry’s progress, a number of startups have forged ahead in their development efforts. And just weeks after Binance released a sneak peek of its in-house blockchain, which is currently centered around a low fee, near-instant, and scalable decentralized exchange, so has Huobi.

Related Reading: Zhao: Binance Chain to Be Ready in “Months,” Enabling Projects to Issue Tokens

Huobi Drops Whitepaper For In-House Blockchain

On Saturday, the Huobi exchange’s overarching brand released a press release via PRNewswire, which outlined an English whitepaper for Huobi Chain, the company’s first foray into native blockchain development. The 79-page whitepaper, which was distributed in tandem with the release, highlighted the Chain team’s intentions and ambitions for the project. Although the paper was extensive, it was made clear that this venture’s overarching goal is to settle asset transactions “on the premise of transparency and regulation.”

To accomplish this (somewhat nebulous) vision, Huobi has enlisted a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) consensus model, which purportedly facilitates Byzantine Fault Tolerance. DPoS, for those who are unaware, is a consensus mechanism that allows users to allocate tokens to a predetermined number of delegates (nodes), who both generate interest and secure the network.

Commenting on the platform as a whole, Livio Weng, CEO of Huobi Global, remarked:

“This is just one more way that Huobi is seeking to improve the global digital asset and blockchain community. Once launched, Huobi Chain will offer users a variety of benefits, including security, transparency, fast, scalability, and smart contract capability.”

As stipulated by the roadmap contained in the whitepaper, a preliminary version of the blockchain could go live in Q4 2019. And while this timeline seems underwhelming, the press released maintained that Huobi’s developers, coupled with “industry experts,” are expected to make “significant progress” on the project over 2019.

This subsidiary was first publicly divulged in June, which was when Huobi’s Gordon Chen told the South China Morning Post that Chain’s vision is to turn Huobi into a decentralized autonomous organization.

Crypto Winter Freezes Huobi

Interestingly, this press release was dropped just days after a company spokeswoman confirmed that Huobi was “optimizing” its purported 1,000+ employees.

As reported by NewsBTC previously, Dovey Wan, the founding partner at Primitive and a crypto insider, claimed that Huobi’s “high % headcount cut” was a byproduct of overextension in 2017/early-2018. She claimed that Huobi flew too close to the Sun with its expansion efforts, along with its leading customer support team for “VIP customers.” And as such, Wan claimed that the startup created an “exam” to determine which employees to keep on payroll.

Huobi representatives have yet to divulge the extent of the layoffs, nor who/what company branches were cut, trimmed, or kept in full.

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Crypto Tidbits: Bitcoin Stolen From Electrum Users, Litecoin Sponsors UFC

While the holiday spirit was in full swing over the past week, the crypto industry maintained its unrelenting drive for growth and adoption. The Litecoin Foundation divulged a sponsorship with the UFC, while Bitcoin’s Lightning Network continued to swell. However, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, as the Electrum Wallet came under attack, while Huobi and Bitmain laid off employees.

Crypto Tidbits

  • Electrum Wallet Breached, 250+ Bitcoin StolenOn Thursday, reports arose that Electrum Wallet, a popular open-source project founded in mid-June 2011, was breached in a “clever attack.” Per ZDNet, who broke the news, hackers purportedly added dozens of “malicious servers” to the Electrum network, so when a user issued a transaction, a hacker-backed server would reply with an error message asking victims to visit a fraudulent GitHub repository (repo). If downloaded, the malicious application would request for users to input a 2FA code, which was siphoned to the attacker, subsequently allowing Bitcoin (BTC) to be snatched. Via the use of the attack vector, the bad actors netted 200+ BTC, valued at ~$800,000 at the time of writing.
  • Litecoin To Sponsor UFC 232Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin and a long-time crypto diehard, recently revealed the LTC logo will make its way onto the stage of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) 232: Jones Vs. Gustaffson 2. In an announcement released in tandem with Lee’s tweet on the matter, John Eidson, the director of marketing & communications at the Litecoin Foundation, explained that Litecoin will become the “Official Cryptocurrency Partner” of the upcoming sports event, which will take place this Saturday (December 29th) in Inglewood, California. The match, which will be the last UFC contest of 2018, will see Jones challenge Gustafsson in a Light Heavyweight match. Commenting on the rationale behind this sponsorship, Eidson explained that the Litecoin Foundation has intentions to continue partnerships with “great companies and brands” moving into 2019, making it logical for the cryptocurrency to “step into UFC’s world-famous Octagon now.” Interestingly, this sponsorship isn’t straight out of left field, as Lee told Bloomberg that he intends to focus on adoption in 2019, making this move (while still in 2018) an evident jab at bolstering Litecoin’s global presence.
  • Crypto Powerhouse Bitmain Laying Off StaffersLast week, reports arose that Bitmain, the Beijing-based crypto mining giant, was looking to lay off much of its 2,000+ staffers. In a statement given to the South China Morning Post, it appears this internal adjustment have been confirmed. Company spokespeople explained that the heavyweight, once valued at over $10 billion dollars, was looking to make “some adjustment[s] to our staff this year.” Trying to sweeten the bitter statement, it was explained that the layoffs were aimed at “auxiliary” arms. Interestingly, the company failed to disclose the exact details of this pertinent industry happening. This has led many insiders to reach out. Dovey Wan, a prominent Chinese crypto diehard, claimed that Bitmain’s Beijing office will only house 300 staffers, compared to the 1,000+ pre-layoff. The firm’s Shenzhen location will undergo a similar layoff in terms of percentage. Samson Mow, a Chinese-Canadian that is currently the CSO at Bitcoin development group Blockstream, claimed that Bitmain lost its whole “Copernicus” team. The team purportedly pruned the startup’s Bitcoin Cash GO client.
  • Huobi Follows Bitmain’s Lead: In the aforementioned South China Morning Post piece, it was also revealed that not only is Bitmain laying off staffers, but so is Huobi. Citing a company spokeswoman, the outlet claimed that Singapore-based Huobi is “optimizing staffing.” Other than the fact that the firm intends to cut its worst-performing employees, not much has been publicly divulged about this effort.
  • Bitcoin’s Lightning Network Booms Amid “Crypto Winter”The Lightning Network, a second-layer system that facilitates near-instant, low-cost, scalable Bitcoin transactions, has continued to grow at a staggering pace, even amid 2018’s market downturn. Rui Gomes, a developer at Tim Draper-backed OpenNode, claimed that the network can now facilitate 500 BTC at max capacity, amounting to approximately $2 million in dollar value. This milestone was breached just two days after Crypto Graffiti, a well-known, yet pseudonymous Bitcoin-inspired artist, divulged that he/she auctioned a micro-painting depicting a black swan (a likely nod to crypto’s classification on the global stage) on the Lightning Network. The piece left Crypto Graffiti’s hands for one-millionth of a Satoshi, currently valued at $0.0000000395.
  • Coinbase CEO Commits To Donating Crypto WealthBrian Armstrong has long been a powerhouse in the crypto industry. Armstrong, who started his career in Silicon Valley as an Airbnb developer, founded Coinbase, the world-renowned crypto platform now valued at $8 billion, in 2012. Now, just six years later, his personal net-worth has presumably swelled to hundreds of millions, if not billions — on the back of the Bitcoin craze. Just like many of his fellow high net-worth individuals, the Coinbase chief recently committed to philanthropic efforts. In a tweet published last week, Armstrong revealed that he had signed the Giving Pledge, a formal declaration of charity targeted at billionaires created by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. In a statement on the matter, Armstrong noted that now, he doesn’t see much of a need to spend more money on his personal wants, and would rather see others benefit from his wealth.
  • Bitcoin Private Oversupply Issue Revealed: On Sunday, Coin Metrics, an open-source crypto asset analytics team, released a damning report about Bitcoin Private (BTCP), a fork of both Bitcoin and ZClassic. The exposé revealed that there were too many BTCP in circulation, due to a covert premine that minted 2,040,000 tokens. The bad actor behind this operation reportedly dumped 300,000 of the fraudulent BTCP on the open market, making away with an estimated $1 million to $3 million in profits. Since this information has divulged, the Bitcoin Private team has issued a lengthy response by the way of a Medium rebuttal. The response, posted three days after Coin Metrics’ report, claimed that a non-core developer was responsible for the premine, as he/she omitted a pertinent line of code, allowing bad actors to generate BTCP on demand. To amend the issue, the team is purportedly looking into forking its blockchain, removing all shielded coins from existence (only ~20,000 of which are legitimate, the other 1.7-1.8 million were falsely generated).
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Bitcoin May Breach $333,000 By 2023: Why This Prediction Isn’t Crazy

There’s no denying it, the crypto industry is known for its eccentric individuals, statements, and startups. John McAfee, for example, promised to consume his family jewels if Bitcoin (BTC) doesn’t reach $1 million apiece by 2020’s end. While McAfee’s call is by far the most bizarre, especially what he wagered, he isn’t the only industry insider to expect for BTC to break out of its quintuple digits cell.

In the end, these predictions may be headline-seeking, but there are a number of catalysts that could push BTC far beyond current price levels.

Market Cycles Predict Bitcoin Could Surpass $333,000 By 2023

Filb Filb, a prominent crypto analyst that often touts zany charts, recently took to his Twitter feed to release another one of his (in)famous charts. The chart, which highlighted Bitcoin’s entire history as a liquid asset, accentuated the asset’s multi-year cycles, which were created by the Bitcoin issuance (halving) cycle.

Basing his prediction off the previous cycles, Filb noted that BTC could bottom at anywhere between $2,500 and $3,100 over the next year. And if the cards play out correctly, once the halving occurs in ~500 days, the Bitcoin price could begin its next run beyond $10,000. If the asset’s historical action is any indication, BTC could eclipse $332,733, once the effects of the halvening hit the supply and demand of crypto markets.

Why This Bitcoin Call Isn’t Too Zany

Trace Mayer, one of the earliest Bitcoiners and an anti-establishment proponent, recently explained his personal take on Bitcoin’s value proposition, specifically from a long-term point of view. The diehard, who began publicly advocating for cryptocurrencies in 2011, told The Crypto Sphere that as the financialization of Bitcoin occurs, BTC will become a “huge player” on the global stage.

Mayer explained that with the advent of Lightning Network and other innovative protocols, coupled with the eventual influx of Wall Streeters, BTC will become the de-facto go-to investment for any intelligent consumer. Mayer even quipped that holding BTC will easily outpace an IRA or 401k, as the latter investments may get nationalized over time, or get printed straight out of existence (hyperinflation).

This wasn’t the only bullish catalyst that the “hard money” apostle touted, telling his interviewer that there “simply isn’t enough [crypto] to go around,” claiming that there’s only 0.17 BTC for every active consumer in this market. And as global economies begin to sag under inflating worldwide debt figures, more consumers will continue to flock to cryptocurrencies en-masse.

Related Reading: Bitcoin and Crypto are Solutions to the $164 Trillion Global Debt

Speaking on the deteriorating state of macro markets, Mayer noted:

“In the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, [he writes that] neither borrower nor lender be. We have way too much debt globally. It came largely in response to having too much debt and a failure starting in 2007… Now we have publicly-traded corporations borrowing money to buy back shares, but the productivity of the globe isn’t enough to service this debt. So people are going to fail [to pay] this debt.”

Perfectly segwaying into his cardinal point, Mayer noted that this financial crisis, which is rapidly festering, will drastically alter the globe’s power and influence structure. And as traditional markets flounder, the investor noted that psychologies will shift, as fractional reserve-based money becomes antiquated and equity-based money (like BTC) takes over. This, of course, is hyperbitcoinization exemplified, and could single-handily propel the cryptocurrency beyond the limits of human rationale.

This isn’t an unpopular opinion by far, as pundits like Tim Draper and John McAfee have claimed that the collapse of fiat will push BTC well past the all-time highs it established in late-December 2017.

Yet, there remain a number of roadblocks in Bitcoin’s way, namely scalability and a lack of suitable infrastructure. As it stands, exchanges and platforms supporting cryptocurrencies would likely crumble if millions were to unload fiat simultaneously. Moreover, the decentralized networks themselves would likely undergo a catastrophic period of congestion, where transactions grind to a near-halt. But, these (to-be) issues haven’t gone unchecked, as there are dozens, if not hundreds whose raison d’etre is solving these issues at any cost, and by any means necessary. So have no fear, [maybe] hyperbitcoinization is near.  

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Major Crypto Exchange Huobi To Cut Staff, Will Other Startups Follow Suit?

For much of 2018, crypto startups seemed invincible. As Bitcoin (BTC) collapsed, falling to new multi-month lows each and every month, this industry’s participants barely flinched. Yet, as 2018 has come to a head, a number of industry heavyweights have ostensibly fallen victim to financial shortcomings, dropping the guise of fortitude in a hot second, so to speak. Bitmain and Huobi, both juggernauts in this nascent industry, are the most recent firms to have succumbed to the bear market blues.

Crypto Giant Huobi To “Optimize Staffing”

Many in America may not realize it, but Huobi has been partying with crypto juggernauts for years now. The startup, headquartered in Singapore, reportedly houses over 1,000 employees, which is more than four times more than Binance’s staffer count. Huobi even created a Communist Party committee, a first for any crypto- or blockchain-centric company, as reported by NewsBTC. However, the startup’s status as the third largest crypto exchange hasn’t stopped it from falling victim to 2018’s Bitcoin plunge, and the fallout that resulted from the chaotic market.

The South China Morning Post recently reported that not only is Bitmain laying off staffers, but so is Huobi. Citing a company spokeswoman, the outlet claimed that Huobi is “optimizing staffing.” Other than the fact that the firm intends to cut its worst-performing employees, not much has been publicly divulged about this effort. Yet, Dovey Wan, the founding partner at Primitive and a crypto diehard, recently broke down this industry happening in a post-mortem Twitter thread.

Wan, a leading industry commentator, first established that Huobi is a household name in Asia’s cryptosphere, adding that its growth was “off the charts in 2017,” especially as it forayed into the mining and infrastructure sub-sectors.  She explained that its expansion efforts, coupled with its leading customer support team for “VIP customers,” catalyzed a parabolic explosion in Huobi’s staff count. Likely citing insider sources, the Singapore-based crypto entrepreneur noted that Huobi hired 1,500 at its peak, up five times from the original 300.

Yet, as explained earlier, the multi-faceted startup has begun to slow down its operations, cutting staff. The Primitive partner noted that to choose who to fire, Huobi created an “exam,” which is purportedly composed of 2,000 questions about the crypto industry and the firm’s business strategies and offerings. Those who scored the lowest were more likely to get cut. Although Wan wasn’t able to divulge the extent of Huobi’s layoff, she noted that it was a “high % headcount cut,” likely near or on par with Bitmain’s purported purge of ~50% of its 2,000+ staffers.

Interestingly, not three months ago, the Asia-centric platform announced an ambitious expansion plan. As reported by NewsBTC previously, Huobi launched a regional subsidiary dubbed Mena, which has set up shop in the desert oasis city of Dubai. It was explained that Mena has intentions to become Huobi’s hub for retail and institutional expansions into the Middle East, Africa, and much of Southern Asia. And just two weeks prior to this announcement, the startup was revealed to have moved one step closer to launching its own blockchain.

For now, however, it remains to be seen whether Huobi will be pushing ahead with its initiatives, which will put the company on the map across the globe, not just in Asia.

Not The First Case, Nor The Last

Although it seems nearly every crypto startup has announced cuts, including a 15-man layoff at the $8 billion powerhouse that is Coinbase, some fear that this is only the beginning. Wan referred these fears herself when she wrote that “we will see more [layoffs] coming up into 2019, especially after the holiday when the employment/HR cycle kicks in.” This is, of course, in reference to the fact that purging staff in the holiday season is taboo, and shouldn’t be done out of etiquette and human decency.

Related Reading: Crypto Jobs Get Squeezed as Markets Continue to Free-fall

Regardless, the bottom line is that if cryptocurrencies continue to not undergo a notable recovery, the startups running this ecosystem will likely continue to reel in bear market-induced pains. And if sufficient financial runways aren’t established, even this industry’s leading startups will begin to show overt signs of distress, as made apparent by Bitmain’s and ConsenSys‘ cases.

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Pompliano: Bitcoin Could Fall Under $3,000, But It Remains Non-Correlated

As traditional equities have plummeted in value, especially Nasdaq-based technology stocks, interestingly, so has the Bitcoin (BTC) market. This seeming correlation was most recently exemplified by crypto’s tumble on Christmas Eve, as BTC fell from $4,200 to $3,800 as industry commentators were claiming that a “Santa Claus rally” was nigh. Other digital assets followed, with Ethereum (ETH) quickly posting a double-digit loss as it trailed behind the flagship crypto.

During the same trading session, worldwide macro markets purportedly saw their worst Christmas Eve since the Great Depression, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 2.25 percent in a day’s time. The freefall wasn’t isolated to U.S. markets, however, as Japan’s Nikkei 225 collapsed by 1,000 points, a five percent loss, and a move which made global investors trepid en-masse.

Related Reading: Top Tech Stocks Lost More Than Entire Crypto Market Since All-Time High

Yet, for the longest time, Bitcoin’s cardinal narrative is that its day-to-day action shouldn’t be reminiscent of traditional markets. So, it should come as no surprise that Andrew Sorkin, a prominent journalist and CNBC anchor, called crypto’s non-correlated nature into question during a recent installment of “Squawk Box.”

Bitcoin Is Non-correlated, Christmas Crash Was Just a Coincidence

And who better to ask than one Anthony Pompliano, a former Snapchat and Facebook growth team member turned crypto diehard, who now heads Morgan Creek Digital. On Boxing Day’s Squawk Box episode, Pompliano, better known as Pomp to his followers, claimed that Bitcoin is “definitely” a non-correlated asset. Referencing data compiled by Morgan Creek, which NewsBTC cited in a recent report on Bitcoin’s role in pension funds, Pomp noted that the correlation between BTC and the S&P 500 is near-zero. The investor even added this is much of the same with the U.S. dollar index.

Sorkin, taking Pomp’s comments with a grain of salt, claimed that he believes that cryptocurrency holders “have a lot of money in FANG stocks, technology stocks — [so] they’re the first movers.” Explaining why this is relevant, the reporter claimed that the decline in markets en bloc could be investors trying to de-risk their portfolios by liquidating their Nasdaq stocks and cryptocurrencies — both deemed relatively risky investments — simultaneously.

The Morgan Creek lead, doubling down on his aforementioned comments, rebutted by simply stating that “the data is the data.” Continuing on about Bitcoin’s non-correlated theme, Pomp noted that forward-thinking investors should allocate one or two percent into Bitcoin, likely touching on the asymmetric risk/return profile that has become crypto’s calling card.

Another CNBC host backed Pomp’s claim, noting that astute pundits have claimed that Bitcoin’s most recent cycle could have foretold the equity markets’ boom and bust, as BTC is often classified as the epitome of a risk-on asset.

Crypto Still Nascent, May Falter In The Short-term

While Pomp is evidently bullish on cryptocurrencies for the long haul, the prominent investor noted that BTC could continue lower over the short-term, adding that sub-$3,000 is a possibility. Although such a claim could be seen as a bearish signal, this sentiment isn’t unheard of. Michael Bucella, for instance, told CNBC’s “Fast Money” that cryptocurrencies have one leg lower to go in its year-long “distress cycle.” But, the BlockTower partner noted that the “smartest money is still moving into” crypto, before explaining that he has high hopes for this industry, even while his outlook on the market may not reflect that.

In closing, Pomp took a moment to draw attention to crypto’s anti-establishment overtones, quipping that a popular phrase in the industry (popularized by himself) is, “long Bitcoin, short the bankers.” The Morgan Creek representative noted that when you boil cryptocurrencies down, they’re driven by math and software, rather than the nefarious individuals that can plague traditional industries. This is, of course, crypto’s underlying value proposition, and this industry’s fundamental narrative since its earliest days, or blocks if you will.

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PWC Crypto: 2018’s Bitcoin Crash “Cleared Out The Noise”

In terms of price action, 2018 was a dismal year for many of the crypto industry’s participants, as the Blockfolios of investors worldwide were painted in red all year round. Yet, as established by industry pundits like Armin Van Bitcoin, Travis Kling, and countless others, the past 12 months have been exorbitantly successful for this nascent industry. And a notable industry insider, one that hails from one of the “Big Four (accounting firms),” believes that this unrelenting drive for innovation will continue into 2019, contrary to the opinion of zealous naysayers and diehard fundamentalists.

Related Reading: Travis Kling: I’m “Incredibly Highly Convinced” That Crypto Will Succeed

Institutional Involvement, Clear Legislature Will Mature The Crypto Industry

Henri Arslanian, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC) fintech and crypto lead for China & Hong Kong, recently sat down with Bloomberg TV’s “Daybreak: Australia” segment to discuss his outlook for this budding industry in the upcoming year. Allen, echoing the sentiment ballyhooed by skeptics, simply asked the guest if crypto is, well, “over.”

Arslanian, obviously poised for such a question, noted that there’s a lot to look forward to in 2019, specifically citing the institutional influx that has (and may continue) to bless the cryptosphere. The seeming crypto advocate noted that while 2018 has seen institutions fleetingly dip their toes in the Bitcoin waters, 2019 will see the arrival of the “institutional herd,” as one Mike Novogratz likes to put it.

These comments are interestingly similar to that held by Asiff Hirji, the president of Coinbase, who recently told CNBC that 2019 will “continue to be a good year for institutions heading into crypto.”

The Bloomberg guest noted that crypto-centric subsidiaries from Wall Street juggernauts, like Fidelity’s Digital Asset Services, and partnerships between traditional markets firms and blockchain startups (Nomura and Ledger, for example) could catalyze this movement. Arslanian also noted that venture investment, like Goldman Sachs’ capital allocation into BitGo and Circle, could aid in drastically maturing this infantile industry.

Arslanian, when asked about what will make 2019 a monumental year for cryptocurrencies, drew attention to the advent of regulatory clarity. PWC’s in-house crypto expert explained that easily defined legislature, especially in “less nimble nations,” will “give comfort” to institutional players, catalyzing a newfound wave of adoption. And as seen with the recent drafting of a U.S. bill, a bipartisan effort from two forward-minded congressmen, which may place cryptocurrencies out of the jurisdiction of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), regulatory clarity is likely just around the corner.

2018’s Bitcoin Crash “Cleared Out The Noise”

When queried about Bitcoin’s cyclical nature of “booms and busts,” Arslanian noted that the recent collapse in the Bitcoin price can actually be classified as a bullish happenstance, as it “cleared out the noise” that plagued this sector. Backing his claim, the PWC cryptocurrency head noted that the Dotcom Crash cleared out the money-grabbing startups, leaving only companies that went on to change the world, namely Amazon.

Related Reading: Dotcom Bubble Burst May Have Been Necessary; What About Crypto?

Yet, he pointed out that there remain many cryptocurrency-centric startups that are reeling, specifically due to poor treasury management. And, as made clear by ETCDEV’s recent collapse, and the layoffs seen at ConsenSys, Steemit, and Spankchain, this is a valid concern. Arslanian noted that this market tumult is a byproduct of speculators betting on crypto’s price en-masse, before adding that 2019 is likely to be a positive year for this industry nonetheless.

In closing, the PWC representative name dropped a number of subsectors that could be “interesting to watch” in the year to come. These, as made abundantly apparent by the industry’s recent thematic developments, are the onset of stablecoins and security tokens, two brands of crypto assets that have both been dubbed blockchain’s “killer applications.”

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Pension Funds Should Buy Bitcoin (BTC), Says Crypto Advocate

Anthony Pompliano, the founder of Morgan Creek’s “Digital” branch, has long been a zealot for the decentralist movement, lauding the crypto space for years on end. Case in point, each and every week, Pompliano, better known as Pomp to the crypto community, subjects his 179,000 Twitter followers to the “long Bitcoin, short the bankers” rhetoric that has become his essential calling card.

However, the investor, formerly of Snapchat’s and Facebook’s growth team, hasn’t kept this sentiment contained to his Twitter feed, far from, in fact. In the past weeks, Pomp, along with his colleague (and boss) Mark Yusko, embarked on a monumental crusade to pick up mainstream consumers, appearing on a number of financial media outlets to claim that a capital allocation into cryptocurrencies is financially advantageous.

Moreover, just three weeks back, Morgan Creek Digital issued a $1 million bet rooting for its in-house crypto index fund, which covers a vast majority of the aggregate value of cryptocurrencies. If Morgan Creek’s vehicle, centered around Bitcoin, outperforms the Standard and Poor 500 over a decade, the firm expects a $1 million cheque in its mailbox. Conversely, if traditional instruments manage to outperform crypto, Morgan Creek will be mandated to fork out $1 million to its to-be-determined opponent. Yusko, echoing comments from his colleague on the bet, told CNBC that he believes U.S. stocks will post “basically no returns” over the next 10 years, while he expects for crypto assets to surge within the same timeframe.

Related Reading: Morgan Creek Digital Makes $1 Million “Buffett Bet 2.0” Crypto Wager

While Morgan Creek (and Pomp, in turn,) have put its money where its mouth is, the prominent insider isn’t don’t banging the Bitcoin drum just yet. Most recently, Pomp took to Off The Chain, a crypto publication/media source he heads, to claim that Bitcoin could be a solution to the pension crisis.

“Every Pension Fund Should Buy Bitcoin”

Today, there are dozens of millions, if not hundreds of millions across the globe that are relying on pensions to stay afloat for retirement. Yet, while pension plans often tout a big game, this form of financial compensation has come under fire in recent decades. Air Canada, for instance, went into a $4.2 billion pension solvency deficit in 2012, which could have killed the company entirely. And while the airline has since recovered its pension program’s prospects, there remain many plans that are facing down gun barrels, so to speak.

For example, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest public pension fund in America, with $300 billion of assets, is reportedly less than 70% funded. And, looking at its annualized returns, it doesn’t look like the fund will be reducing this deficit any time soon.

Pomp, in a recent installment of Off The Chain’s newsletter, claimed that this issue is being driven by the worker to retiree ratio, whereas lower birth rates and the aging of the “Baby Boomer” generation has resulted in higher expenses for pension funds. As it stands, there are a number of solutions to this issue. Some solution, like increasing workers’ pension contributions, might be controversial. While others, namely increasing the return of funds, are risky, especially in the tumultuous environment that traditional equities have found themselves in.

Morgan Creek’s representative explained that while the aforementioned fixes may succeed, a “potential solution” to solve this crisis is to simply buy Bitcoin, “seriously.” Bitcoin, for one, is a non-correlated asset, with Pomp even calling it “the holy grail of any portfolio.”

Delphi Digital, a blockchain- and crypto-centric research/analytics unit, recently confirmed that having a small allocation into Bitcoin is statistically logical. More specifically, the group determined that putting 3% of investable capital aside into Bitcoin produces the highest Sharpe Ratio.

The flagship cryptocurrency even has an asymmetric return profile, meaning that there is much more upside than downside in owning Bitcoin. Pomp specifically drew attention to the digital gold argument to prove his point, noting that if Bitcoin becomes gold, the upside is “~100x+.” Accentuating his belief in this strategy, he wrote:

“Bitcoin has been the best performing asset over the last 10 years. It has experienced a 1,300,000X+ increase in value from $0.003 to ~$4,000 today. It has beat the S&P 500 for the last 10 years, the last 5 years, and the last 2 years. As a fixed supply asset, I believe Bitcoin will continue to outperform traditional assets in the future as demand continues to increase too.”

Pomp noted that if Bitcoin hypothetically surpasses $1 million apiece, as many optimists hope it will, a 0.1% allocation into the cryptocurrency will blossom into 25% in total assets. Yet, the crypto bull made it clear that it isn’t that easy, as there is a non-zero chance that Bitcoin could capitulate to zip if the worse comes to worst.

Still, in closing, the diehard noted that the cryptocurrency still has the potential to fish society out of a pension crisis, adding that “we just need one or two courageous individuals to make the first move.”

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Investor: Bitcoin Won’t Fall To $0, Will Weather The Crypto Storm

As Bitcoin (BTC) collapsed in 2018, many naysayers and cynics claimed that the end was nigh for the world’s first cryptocurrency. Some critics drew attention to Bitcoin’s mining ecosystem, claiming that the hashrate drought would catapult BTC into a “death spiral,” whereas miners would flee en-masse. Others looked to stringent regulatory measures, claiming that legislature from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and similar entities would squeeze the fun out of cryptocurrencies, BTC included.

Yet, a number of crypto zealots have maintained that they have abounding faith in this nascent asset class, even while the market remains tumultuous. Alex Pack, the managing partner at Dragonfly Capital Partners, recently told Forbes’ Billy Bambrough that BTC has achieved a major milestone in 2018, even while prices don’t reflect this buoyant sentiment.

Related Reading: Prominent Investor: 2018 Was The “Most Successful Year” For Bitcoin

Pack explained that while BTC could fall to $2,000 or even $1,000, it would be preposterous to assume that the asset could collapse to $0, as the cryptocurrency has developed a material value proposition. The investor, who heads the aforementioned crypto-centric venture capital group, added that this non-zero chance that Bitcoin will always have value is a “milestone.”

The Dragonfly managing partner noted that Bitcoin, a “landmark in the history of money,” has become a “dependable store of value.” This is, of course, a reference to the age-old yet pertinent argument that BTC is viable as the digital coming of gold, due to its scarcity, censorship-resistance, and decentralized qualities that give the project a solid narrative to stand on. Ryan Selkis, CEO of Messari, recently claimed that the killer use case for BTC is as a hedge against “inflationary recession.” Pack, explained this point further, noted:

“For something like bitcoin, which is a landmark in the history of money, it has become a more dependable store of value. People buying and using it have got to be confident it’s not going to zero.”

Bitcoin Isn’t So Niche Anymore

Discussing the reasoning behind his innocuous idea, Peck explained that 2018’s developments have bolstered BTC’s underlying fundamentals greatly. The Dragonfly representative purportedly drew attention to efforts to launch Bitcoin futures from the New York Stock Exchange (the Intercontinental Exchange), and, more recently, a similar foray from Nasdaq.

The investor even claimed that Bitcoin’s bull run in 2017 has had a positive lasting impact on this nascent ecosystem, noting that now, “confidence has never been higher [in crypto].” This is, in part, due to the fact that BTC isn’t a niche investment anymore, as today, Bitcoin continues to get plastered all across mainstream media. Yet, Pack noted that he would be remiss not to point out that there remains uncertainty regarding the bearish market conditions. Still, keeping an upbeat, joyous tone, Pack stated:

“The question now is ‘how long this bear market will last?’ The death cries seem far softer than in previous downturns and the people involved now have more patience. We think we’ll be able to weather the storm.”

And with startups continuing to develop, diehards doubling-down on their bullish outlook, and investors continuing to flock to this space (albeit slower than last year), it is apparent that this isn’t Bitcoin isn’t in its death throes, contrary to the sentiment touted by one Erik Finman.

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Analyst: Ethereum Constantinople Is “Decidedly Bullish” Over Long Run

As the crypto market has been flushed with green tickers, Ethereum (ETH) has surged, moving from a year-to-date at $81 to $150 in a matter of a few weeks’ time. In classic crypto fashion, this monumental rally, which nearly doubled the value of Ether, wasn’t backed by a clear catalyst. Some looked to the potential advent of ETH-backed futures, while others looked to the impending Constantinople upgrade.

A prominent crypto-friendly analyst and commentator, Alex Krüger, recently broke down the latter, doing his best to determine whether Constantinople can (or has) push(ed) Ether higher.

Ethereum Constantinople: Is It Bullish Or Bearish?

For those who missed the memo, Constantinople is the next notable upgrade in Ethereum’s timeline, as the activation of the protocol will bring the blockchain one step closer to Serenity (scaling, Proof of Stake, etc.). While there are a number of short-term scaling upgrades pertinent to Constantinople, the launch of the protocol, slated to occur on January ~16th will cut block rewards from three to two Ether.

Taking the simple theories of supply and demand into account, while also looking at the price action of Bitcoin pre- and post-block reward shifts, many see the upgrade’s onset as a positive signal for ETH. Krüger echoed this sentiment, claiming that in the long run, the so-called block reward “thirdening” will be “decidedly bullish.”

Interestingly, the analyst noted that news regarding the Constantinople fork might not have pushed Ether higher over the past few days. Krüger explained that once the date was decided for the upgrade’s activation, ETH spiked for a day, before dropping for eight days straight as bears didn’t abate. Moreover, the block reward reduction was determined on August 31st, indicating that the market should’ve priced this factor in during the past few months.

Analysis of historical events of similar proportions didn’t help either, as the result that previous Ether issuance reductions had on the Ethereum price varied each and every time.

Yet, Krüger explained that if Ether continues to at $155 (current price levels), Constantinople will only force out “pro miners” that are paying $0.075 per KWH, which is far from the “death spiral” that some cynics were awaiting. In the analyst’s eyes, hobbyist miners, whether paying $0.075+ per KWH or otherwise, will continue to hash away, as this subset of participants

The latter is, of course, a presumably positive sign for the Ethereum ecosystem, as many pundits look to the health of mining prospects to determine fair valuations for cryptocurrencies.

Related Reading: Bitcoin Can’t Fall To $0 Nor Enter A “Death Spiral” — Mining Rules Deem It So

What Else Is Up With The Ethereum Pump?

While Constantinople is likely going to be a bullish catalyst for Ether moving forward, as established, some are still dazed as to the reason why the asset is up 60% in the past week. This surge has made many reminisce of the bull run of yesteryear, but many have been asking — can ETH continue to surge sky-high? And while no analyst can arbitrate a definitive answer, there are a number of factors that have could be giving ETH quite the tailwind.

Just days ago, news broke that Consensus Systems (ConsenSys) was slated to purge half of its staffers in an ostensible case of bear market blues. The Verge, which broke the news, claimed that the New York-headquartered startup was going to cut ties with spokes, an overarching name given to internal projects, that wasn’t absolutely essential to the Ethereum Project or ConsenSys itself. This was reportedly going to lead to the firing of 50%~60% of the firm’s 1,200 employees, many of which were hired in the past year alone.

Seeing that ConsenSys is essentially the Blockstream of Ethereum, as many of its spokes play a key role in the ecosystem, many thought that ETH would go into death throes. Yet, in the eleventh hour, Joseph Lubin, a co-founder of Ethereum and the head of ConsenSys, came to the company’s rescue.

At the same time, the tech entrepreneur divulged that he would be calling a crypto bottom for 2018/2019, specifically due to the abounding FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) that has bombarded the community like a plague. Interestingly, this innocuous message is the first time that a notable industry insider has overtly expressed that the bear market is about to bite the dust.

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Prominent Investor: 2018 Was The “Most Successful Year” For Bitcoin

Many analysts, including former Bitcoin (BTC) short seller Mark Dow, look at the price of cryptocurrencies to determine the health of their underlying fundamentals. However, a prominent cryptocurrency proponent has claimed that in spite of the market, 2018 was Bitcoin’s “most successful year” yet, specifically in terms of network performance.

Bitcoin Segwit Usage Holds 40%

Jameson Lopp, a prominent Bitcoiner, cypherpunk, and the CTO of crypto startup CasaHODL, recently took to his Twitter page to draw attention to the fact that 2018 has been a great year for the Segregated Witness (SegWit) protocol. SegWit, for those who missed the memo, is a protocol that allows more transactions to fit into each processed block by reformatting transactional data.

More specifically, since January, the peak of crypto’s most recent season of speculative mania, SegWit adoption in Bitcoin transactions has risen from 10% to 40%. Many have attributed the monumental adoption of the protocol to exchanges and platform, who have begun to utilize SegWit wallets to reduce operational expenses, while still providing cheaper withdrawal fees for consumers worldwide.

As a result of this uptick in SegWit use, the virtual transaction size fell from 750 bytes in February to 450 bytes, decreasing fees incurred for each transfer of BTC. This news comes hot on the heels of NewsBTC’s previous report that Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, another key scaling solution, has seen a Cambrian-like growth explosion in 2018. As established in that report, the Lightning Network, an off-chain system that facilitates instant, low-cost, scalable transactions, can now facilitate 500 BTC.

Per 1ML’s real-time statistics, node channels supporting the scaling protocol, headed by Bitcoin development consortium Blockstream, can now accept 496.49 BTC, a sum that amounts to $1.93 million at current prices. And by the looks of it, this figure is only slated to swell in the months to come. In the past month, network capacity has increased by 13%, even as the crypto market en bloc has remained in a troubled, chaotic state.

Not Bitcoin’s Only Accomplishment In 2018

SegWit adoption and the growth of Lightning aren’t Bitcoin’s only accomplishments in 2018, far from, in fact. As noted by Armin Van Bitcoin, a pseudonymous, yet prominent cryptocurrency zealot, there are a handful of developments that made 2018 a great year for the project.

Bitcoin saw the 0.16.0 and 0.17.0 installments of its core software go live, the former of which aided SegWit’s arrival to the mainstream. Blockstream also made strides, allowing offline consumers nearly all across the globe to access the Bitcoin blockchain via a series of satellites. And even while the network’s hashrate has recently stumbled, it remains up by 400% year-on-year, accentuating the fact that miners still see value in BTC.

The aforementioned developments are far from an expansive list, but regardless, it is clear that Bitcoin continues to do fine, even in spite of the devastating market conditions.

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Travis Kling: “Significant Chance” That Crypto Will Outperform Everything In 2019

While many poke fun at the performance of crypto in 2018, global macro markets have begun to falter. Since reaching a year-to-date high in early-September, the Nasdaq, the world’s second-largest stock exchange, has seen its index collapse by 22%. Nasdaq’s index, which houses the publicly-traded stocks of tech powerhouses, namely Alphabet (Google), Amazon, and Apple, has fallen so far that it is now in “bear market” or “recession” territory.

Nasdaq isn’t the only market suffering, far from, in fact. The SPDR Homebuilders ETF, which holds notable positions in development groups, construction giants, and appliance providers, has also stumbled, is down 30% year-to-date. Prospects are arguably even worse overseas. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite is down 29% from its year-to-date high, with other notable indices posting similar losses.

This pullback in global industries hasn’t gone unnoticed, as the U.S. Federal Reserve (FED) has already undertaken preemptive measures to unwind the decade-long period of seeming “asset inflation.” Case in point, just a few days back, the FED hiked the benchmark interest rate to 2.5%, an evident sign of a slowing economy in the eyes of many analysts and pundits.

But with worldwide debt now sitting at a staggering $184 trillion, a jaw-dropping $86,000 per every living, breathing human being and 225% of global GDP, some fear that further legs lower are right around the corner.

Related Reading: Messari CEO: Killer Use Case For Bitcoin Is Still Money, Digital Gold

Crypto Born Out Of Bear Market, It Has Never Existed In One

As Bitcoin (BTC) was born in the depths of 2008’s Great Recession, the flagship cryptocurrency, coupled with the other digital assets that spawned off it, has never existed in a bonafide equity markets crash. But with prospects for traditional equities looking more than dismal, as established earlier, BTC may be about to get its first taste of a worldwide recession (or even a depression).

This has led many cryptocurrency enthusiasts to ask the theoretical, but pertinent question — how will crypto perform as traditional assets crumble?

Travis Kling, the founder and chief investment officer at Ikigai, recently drew attention to the fact that BTC was brought to the world at the commencement of globally-coordinated quantitative easing (QE) — “the largest monetary experiment [of all time].” In Kling’s eyes, it is only logical that traditional equities have stumbled as QE has started to slow, catalyzed by the shift in strategy touted by international monetary incumbents.

Keeping all this in mind, Kling noted that there “is a significant chance [that] crypto is the best performing asset class in 2019.” This isn’t any old baseless claim, as the Ikigai founder laid out his reasoning for this outlook in a recent TD Ameritrade interview. As reported by NewsBTC previously, Kling stated that crypto assets, namely Bitcoin, give consumers “the ability to opt-out of the largest monetary experiment of human history,” as it is a “non-sovereign digital money” that transcends shortcomings in traditional markets.

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Bloomberg: Wall Street Putting A Pause On Bitcoin Foray

While 2017’s narrative in the crypto industry was undoubtedly the initial coin offering (ICO) craze, 2018’s was evidently the advent of Wall Street participants. And while strides were made with institutional involvement, with Nasdaq and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) both openly backing crypto assets, Bloomberg has claimed that efforts to bring Bitcoin to Wall Street remain in “limbo.”

Institutions Putting A Pause On Bitcoin Amid “Crypto Winter”

Since a majority of retail investors fled crypto as the “bubble” unwound, those left standing have sought a light at the end of the tunnel. This, of course, took the form of a multitude of pro-institutional narratives that quickly became the rallying cry, or even call to arms, for the subset of investors dubbed “HODLers.”

Related Reading: Why Are Novogratz, Fidelity, And Bakkt Banking On Institutional Crypto Investors?

And initially, it seemed that the cries for Wall Street to show up on crypto’s porch were working, as leading American banks and financial service providers downed the red pill. Yet, reports from Bloomberg have accentuated the fact that institutions are putting a pause on their Bitcoin efforts, presumably due to the downturn that has plagued every corner of this nascent market.

As reported by NewsBTC in August, sources claimed that Goldman Sachs was on the verge of becoming a cryptocurrency custodian. The sentiment touted throughout the industry made it clear that pundits thought Goldman’s custodial service would be open by year’s end. But since the report, the New York-based juggernaut hasn’t announced plans for such an offering, or even the long-rumored trading desk.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Daniel H. Gallancy, the chief executive at Bitcoin ETF hopeful SolidX Partners, claimed that the industry had “unrealistic expectations that Goldman or any of its peers” were poised to launch a crypto-centric platform so soon. Gallancy added that such sentiment was “top-of-the-market-hype thinking.”

The story over at Morgan Stanley was much of the same. According to those familiar with the matter, Morgan Stanley has been “technically prepared” to offer Bitcoin swaps since September but still hasn’t traded a single contract — not one. And again, Citigroup’s cryptocurrency foray is seemingly in a similar state of disarray. Just like Morgan Stanley, Citigroup has been hesitant to trade crypto-backed products.

Even Barclays, one of the first mainstream banks to hint at support for cryptocurrencies, has stumbled, losing the heads of its in-house digital assets branch in September and November.

Probably Isn’t As Bad As It Seems

While the aforementioned is likely disheartening, institutional players have hinted at abounding interest in crypto. Fidelity Investments, for instance, recently announced a custodial and trade execution offering for its 13,000 institutional clients, which primarily consist of family offices, hedge funds, and high net-worth individuals. Rumors indicate that the platform is slated to launch in Q1 of Q2 of 2019.

Bakkt, the crypto platform backed by ICE, Microsoft, and Starbucks, is also slated to launch its physically-backed Bitcoin (BTC) futures product in January, which should make institutions more acclimated to this budding market.

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Coinbase CEO To Donate Crypto Wealth, Joins Buffet-backed Philanthropic Effort

Pundits argue that crypto and charity don’t mix. Yet, with a number of efforts from this nascent industry’s foremost participants, it has been made apparent that Bitcoiners (and altcoiners) are far from anti-alms. Case in point, Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, recently committed to donating a majority of his crypto wealth in due time.

Brian Armstrong To Donate Millions In Crypto Wealth

Brian Armstrong has long been a powerhouse in the crypto industry. Armstrong, who started his career in Silicon Valley as an Airbnb developer, founded Coinbase, the world-renowned crypto platform now valued at $8 billion, in 2012. Now, just six years later, his personal net-worth has presumably swelled to hundreds of millions, if not billions — on the back of the Bitcoin craze.

And while some early-stage crypto investors/builders have scurried away with their newfound wealth, earlier this year, Armstrong made it clear this wasn’t his plan. In fact, per previous reports from NewsBTC, the San Francisco native launched GiveCrypto, a nonprofit charity aimed at distributing cryptocurrencies “to people in need.”

GiveCrypto, a net benefit for both the impoverished and the crypto industry, has already garnered boatloads of traction, with the CEOs of Ripple, ZCash, Bitcoin.com, BitMEX, and countless other preeminent crypto startups donating collective millions to the initiative. The project, headed by Armstrong and Joe Waltman, has already seen limited success, distributing tens of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrencies to those in nations such as Venezuela, Mexico, Afghanistan.

While GiveCrypto’s efforts shouldn’t be discounted, just last week, per CNBC, the Coinbase chief doubled down on his philanthropic efforts. In a tweet published on Thursday, Armstrong revealed that he had signed the Giving Pledge, a formal declaration of charity targeted at billionaires created by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

Armstrong purportedly joins Elon Musk of SpaceX, Tesla, and Boring, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and a number of the world’s most well-known entrepreneurs, investors, and company founders. The Coinbase founder and cryptocurrency diehard recently took to the GivingPledge’s website to outline his reasoning behind the philanthropic move.

The entrepreneur began by outlining his life goal — “start a billion-dollar tech company” — before adding that it seemed like a quixotic dream for much of his life. But now, Coinbase has been valued at $8 billion, surpassing his original goal by eight-fold, and seems only slated to grow moving into the future. Armstrong noted that now, he doesn’t see much of a need to spend more money on his personal wants, and would rather see others benefit from his wealth.

And of course, the cryptocurrency advocate took some time that he intends to “increase economic freedom” and “create a more level playing field” presumably by the way of the industry has found himself entrenched in. Armstrong wrote:

“There is a quote I saw recently which read ‘The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him their own.’ This stuck with me. I’m interested in helping more people see their ideas come to fruition in the world. My hope is that more people will write down a “crazy” goal some day, just like I did ten years ago, and it will turn out to be not so crazy after all.”

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Bitcoin Lightning Network Booms Amid “Crypto Winter”

Since Bitcoin’s earliest blocks, the network’s lead developers have been hard at work attempting to scale the world’s first blockchain. And while 2018’s “crypto winter” has deterred a multitude of startups, developers, and key industry participants, the Bitcoin Lightning Network, the first viable second-layer scaling solution, has continued to see monumental growth.

Bitcoin Lightning Network To Breach 500 BTC Network Capacity

Rui Gomes, a developer at Tim Draper-backed OpenNode, recently took to Twitter to exclaim that the Lightning Network, an off-chain system that facilitates instant, low-cost, scalable Bitcoin transactions, has grown at a “staggering pace.” More specifically, Gomes, whose brainchild is a preeminent Lightning App (LApp), revealed that the network will facilitate 500 BTC in a few days’ time.

This statistic was corroborated by 1ML, a Lightning Network analytics provider. Per 1ML’s real-time statistics, node channels supporting the scaling protocol, headed by Bitcoin development consortium Blockstream, can now accept 496.49 BTC, a sum that amounts to $1.93 million at current prices. And by the looks of it, this figure is only slated to swell in the months to come. In the past month, network capacity has increased by 13%, even as the crypto market en bloc has remained in a troubled, chaotic state.

Not Any Old Show Pony

And frankly, the Lightning Network isn’t any old show pony.

Crypto Graffiti, a well-known, yet pseudonymous artist situated in the cryptosphere, recently took to Reddit to tell a jaw-dropping story. Crypto Graffiti, who has applied his/her artistic prowess to the Bitcoin realm, noted that on Thursday, he/she auctioned a micro-painting depicting a black swan (a likely nod to crypto’s classification on the global stage) on the Lightning Network.

The artist noted that the piece was sold to the lowest bid, specifically to promote the second-layer protocol and “poke fun at [mainstream media’s] focus on Bitcoin’s price.” For those who are wondering, the piece left Crypto Graffiti’s hands for one-millionth of a Satoshi, currently valued at $0.000000037.

While this little initiative was seemingly done in jest, the crypto-friendly artist explained that micropayments, arguably the Lightning Network’s killer use case, have been an integral part of his/her life. Crypto Graffiti wrote:

“I’m excited about a future where micropayments are omnipresent. Artists paid by the view…writers by the poem…musicians by the listen. Every day interactions complemented by positive monetary reinforcement such as tipping someone who let you merge into traffic. Hopefully this micro auction inspires others to think big about the future of Bitcoin.”

It is important to note that the crusade for scalable networks hasn’t gone unnoticed. Speaking with Bloomberg, Joey Krug, an Augur co-founder turned Pantera Capital top brass, explained that a lack of scaling solutions is directly holding back crypto assets. The Pantera executive noted that if current blockchain networks can scale, cryptocurrencies en-masse will be able to undergo their next round of exponential, jaw-dropping growth.

Related Reading: Pantera Exec: Crypto Market Close to Bottom, Tenfold Increase Possible With Scalability
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Crypto Tidbits: Facebook May Launch Stablecoin, Ethereum Developer ConsenSys In Throes

As the crypto market bounced en bloc, this industry’s news cycle has been starting to look lively yet again. Rob Paone, better known as “Crypto Bobby,” recently explained that this week’s industry developments have been “big,” and in stark contrast to prices, insiders continue to “hunker down” to build bonafide valuable products, platforms, and services.

Crypto Tidbits

  • Ethereum Development Studio ConsenSys May Purge 50% Employees: On Thursday morning, an exclusive report from The Verge painted a dismal picture for the future of ConsenSys, an Ethereum development studio founded by Joseph Lubin. Citing insider sources, The Verge claimed that half of ConsenSys’ 1,200 staffers could be purged in coming months, in a likely bid to reduce the New York-headquarters startup’s burn rate. Those familiar with the matter remarked that the Ethereum-centric developer consortium was looking to “spin-off” a “large” number of spokes (projects) that weren’t pertinent to its next phase, while providing little by the way of severance. Lubin has since come out to deny this hearsay, exclaiming that Consensys “remains healthy,” and that’s he’s bullish on his firm’s and Ethereum’s prospects.
  • Coinbase Lists DAI, Maker (MKR), Golem (GNT), Zilliqa (ZIL)On Tuesday, amid a flurried market rally, Coinbase Pro suddenly revealed that it would be listing DAI and Maker (MKR), the two assets of the Andreessen Horowitz-backed MakerDao project, Golem (GNT), and Zilliqa (ZIL). All the aforementioned assets are situated on the Ethereum Network, with Coinbase’s decision to list these crypto assets likely stemming from the technical ease of implementation. This recent sequence of listings come just weeks after the same platform unveiled support for Civic (CVC), district0x (DNT), Loom Network (LOOM) and Decentraland (MANA). Coinbase has yet to add the aforementioned eight tokens onto its consumer-centric platform.
  • Facebook May Be Working On A StablecoinJust a week after Cheddar reported that Facebook’s in-house blockchain unit houses 40 employees, including a number of former Paypal executives, Bloomberg divulged that the Menlo Park-based social media giant is looking to launch a crypto asset. The early-stage project, unveiled by an anonymous insider, will reportedly see Facebook’s blockchain arm launch a USD-tied stablecoin on WhatsApp, a multinational messaging platform owned by the technology conglomerate. Per the source, the integration in WhatsApp will be aimed at India’s ~200 million users, as there is a growing need for low-cost, rapid, and easy-to-use remittance transactions. Bloomberg explained that Facebook has been hesitant to divulge the venture, due to purported struggles regarding how to formally custody the underlying USD.
  • Crypto Assets Will Be Excluded From SEC’s Jurisdiction With Proposed U.S. BillCrypto traders were treated to a nice surprise on Thursday, as the “Token Taxonomy Act,” headed by Warren Davidson of Ohio and Darren Soto of Florida, was filed for U.S. Congress. If implemented, this act will disallow the SEC from classifying fully-fledged “digital tokens (crypto assets)” as securities. CNBC, who broke the story, did not specify when the bill, likely the first of its kind, will be run through governmental proceedings. Yet, many crypto diehards have faith in the bill, as it is slated to discredit the regulatory uncertainty that has plagued this industry.
  • Prominent Bitcoin Short Seller CoversMark Dow, a preeminent hedge fund manager and savvy chartist, shorted Bitcoin (BTC) approximately one year ago. Just last week, Dow, a skeptic of BTC’s fundamentals, finally bid farewell to his short position, covering it in full, subsequently taking to Twitter to announce his move. Speaking to Bloomberg, Dow explained that he doesn’t “want to try and ride this thing to zero,” potentially indicating that he sees some semblance of value in BTC. The investor then explained that he already took profits twice this year, making the covering of his controversial short logical, especially from a risk management standpoint.
  • Blockstream Continues Bitcoin Satellite EffortsBlockstream, founded by Proof of Work pioneer Adam Back, recently revealed that it had completed the second phase of its satellite network, which allows consumers to post Bitcoin transactions and access blockchain data without a reliable internet connection. Starting this week, users in the Asia-Pacific region will be able to interact with Blockstream’s network, which houses five satellites.
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Analyst: 25% Recovery In Bitcoin Price Was A “Zombie Rally”

Over the past week, as the holiday season has drawn ever nearer, Bitcoin (BTC) and its crypto asset brethren have started to see a drastic uptick in buying pressure. Within a week’s time, BTC, which found a year-to-date low at ~$3150 last week, has recovered to the $4,000-$4,100 range. Many commentators and market analysts have stated that this double-digit surge, backed by multi-month volume highs, could trigger a bull run. Yet, one analyst says that crypto isn’t ready.

The Bitcoin Zombie Rally

Alex Kruger, a leading crypto-friendly markets researcher and analyst, recently laid out the current state of the cryptocurrency market on Twitter. Through a 14-part thread, The economist, who hasn’t been afraid to comment on Bitcoin in the past, laid out what is making the current crypto market tick, so to speak. Kruger first laid out a number of bullish catalysts, expressing the importance of the advent of institutional participants in Bakkt and Fidelity, before noting that year-end manipulation to “improve metrics” could push cryptocurrency values higher.

Related Reading: Why Are Novogratz, Fidelity, And Bakkt Banking On Institutional Crypto Investors?

On the other hand, Kruger noted that are a number of negative stimulants that could further depress this market. These include, but are not limited to, the capitulation of crypto funds, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) latest spell of token sale skepticism, year-end liquidations to “offset [tax] gains,” sell-side pressure from “natural” sellers, and the advent of zombie SAFTs (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens) finally coming to fruition after 2017’s deals.

Kruger, specifically remarking on crypto’s most recent bear market bounce, noted that technicals (technical analysis) remain the strongest impetus behind price action in this nascent market. In his eyes, the past week has seen a majority of cryptocurrencies, notably EOS and Bitcoin Cash (BCH), post double-digit gains due to a single indicator, this being the Relative Strength Index (RSI). According to Tradingview, which cited data from Bitfinex, Bitcoin’s one-day RSI reached its lowest level since Q3 of 2016 around two weeks back.

In other words, Kruger believes that the recent recovery is only a correction off oversold levels, rather than a fundamental shift in the fabric of this industry, like what Coinbase’s president hinted at during a recent CNBC “Fast Money” guest appearance. Contradicting sentiment touted by optimists, the New York-based analyst noted that there isn’t anything to “FOMO” about.  So, referring back to his thread’s titlecard, Kruger dubbed the past week’s price action, the “Zombie Rally,” jabbing at the fact that many participating in this leg upwards “are actually dead.”

He’s either touching on the mindless “FOMO” attitude that has ostensibly driven this rally, or the fact that bots, which are simply responding to technical statistics, are pushing up the Bitcoin price.

Maybe This Crypto Bounce Isn’t So Dead

Although Kruger was evidently making use of creative license to convey his point, data gathered by Crypto Quantamental indicates that this seeming “relief rally” could be far from “dead.” Crypto Quantamental, a U.S.-based, pro-Bitcoin investor, recently stated that BTC is showing “the classic signs of a ‘V’ bottom.” He/she noted that the surge in BTC could be more than a “dead cat bounce,” as Kruger saw it. In fact, Quantamental noted that the “record-breaking” volumes (in BTC count, not $) indicate that a long-term bottom may have formed.190903265-083ed9bcc62039f4f444df289f381ef6838330c5892eea105a4fc62cc6774ec6.png

The investor explained that volumes have surpassed that seen in late-December 2017, when Bitcoin peaked at $20,000 in an unexpected turn of events. Volumes are even higher today than the bouts of selling pressure that BTC experienced on its trip lower. Per Quantamental, yesterday (Dec. 20) was Bitcoin’s highest volume day in its ten-year history, with exchanges en bloc reportedly trading 2,226,735 BTC at an average price of $3,938. This sum, for some much-needed perspective, is a tad more than 10% of all Bitcoin that will ever go into circulation.

Commentating on this move, Quantamental wrote:

“Remember capitulation requires a large drop on massive volume, and the recovery of the “V” requires a large bounce on large volume. We have both here.”

All this, of course, could be a sign that cryptocurrencies won’t be revisiting its yearly lows again. However, Quantamental, just like his/her fellow analysts noted that it may be premature to call a bottom, as markets, especially crypto, can be unpredictable at times.

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Coinbase President: 2019 Will Be a Great Year For Crypto Institutional Investment

As Bitcoin (BTC) plummeted heading into December, investors thought that the visions of a Santa Claus rally were going to be quashed. Yet, in an unexpected turnaround, the crypto market at large has undergone a reversal, with BTC moving 25% higher in a week’s time. Speaking in the context of this seeming “relief rally,” Coinbase’s president, Asiff Hirji, has claimed that he “isn’t surprised,” and expects this industry to continue to swell in the years to come.

More Innovation In Crypto Than Ever Before

CNBC’s “Fast Money” segment recently brought on Hirji, grilling the industry insider about his and Coinbase’s outlook on this industry.

Unsurprisingly, when asked about crypto’s bounce off year-to-date lows, the Coinbase representative, bringing up Warren Buffet’s age-old adage of “be greedy when others are fearful, and be fearful when others are greedy,” noted that this double-digit recovery isn’t illogical.

Hirji added that while valuations were bounds ahead of fundamentals in late-2017, as BTC breached $20,000 in an industry first, development on blockchain infrastructure in 2018 has exceeded all years prior. Echoing comments issued by Spencer Bogart, a partner at Blockchain Capital, the Coinbase president of one year explained that engineers (developers) continue to flock to this industry, catalyzing the creation of ground-breaking projects. In other words, as put by Hirji, “there has never been as much innovation as there is today.”

This isn’t a baseless statement by any means. In recent months, as documented by NewsBTC, household names in traditional realms, including Nasdaq and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), have embarked on fully-fledged cryptocurrency adventures. ICE, for instance, is looking to launch a one-stop shop for crypto participants, which could catalyze global adoption with the flicking of a few switches. Blockchain networks themselves have also undergone innovation-induced spurts of growth, with Bitcoin seeing its Lightning Network expand parabolically throughout the past year.

Expect More Crypto Assets To Be Added To Coinbase

CNBC anchor Mellisa Lee then pressured Hirji to answer for Coinbase’s sudden infatuation with listing handfuls of crypto assets, a far cry from the days that the San Francisco-based startup supported BTC — no more, no less. For those who missed the memo, in recent months, Coinbase has begun to alter its underlying business strategy to be more accepting of crypto assets. This shift has most recently taken the form of listing ten cryptocurrencies in quick succession, before offering support for trading one cryptocurrency to another on Coinbase Consumer.

Related Reading: Coinbase Gets Aggressive With Crypto Listing: Lists MakerDao, Golem, Zilliqa

Although many Bitcoin maximalists have criticized the $8 billion firm for opening its doors further, Hirji explained that Coinbase means no harm. Hirji noted that while listing only BTC was logical in crypto’s nascency, the tides have turned, with there now being thousands of cryptocurrencies in circulation.

Out of those ~4,000, the member of Coinbase’s top brass remarked that only 200 of the aforementioned sum have fundamental value. And, as noted by the startup president, all crypto assets that “matter” will be added to Coinbase’s expansive roster of products in due time, pending regulatory approval of course.

2019 Will Be A Good Year For Institutional Involvement

Discussing institutional involvement in this industry, an extremely pertinent topic amid 2018’s market rout, Hirji noted that this subset of investors is looking for “valid venues” to transact on, coupled with qualified, regulated custodians.

Coinbase, in the eyes of its own president, fits that role perfectly, as Hirji explained that its custody arm and prime brokerage solution are the best in the business. Case in point, Coinbase Custody recently received a regulatory green light from the stringent New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). The former TD Ameritrade executive added that Coinbase’s market data underpins a number of leading derivatives products, only cementing the startup’s status as a qualified participant.

And with all this in mind, it should come as no surprise that Hirji went on to note that Coinbase’s custodial service “has blown by internal goals,” as “hundred of institutions” onboard onto the platform in recent memory. Addressing the market as a whole with Coinbase’s performance in mind, Hirji, concluding his remarks on the matters, stated that 2019 will “continue to be a good year for institutions heading into crypto.”

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Binance CEO: About Time Facebook Launches Its Own Crypto, Bolsters Adoption

Even amid 2018’s crypto market downturn, reports have recently begun to sprout up that Facebook, one of the largest technology giant on Planet Earth, has started to earnestly dive into blockchain development.

This week, NewsBTC reported that Facebook’s in-house blockchain branch, a project headed by former PayPal president David Marcus, has undergone breakneck expansion efforts. An exclusive report from Cheddar has revealed that Facebook’s “small” blockchain consortium has been bolstering its defenses behind closed doors. Citing sources, the outlet’s journalists noted that nearly 40 staffers, which primarily consist of savvy blockchain talents and former PayPal employees, now work within the walls of the little-known program.

While the Menlo Park-based startup is evidently putting the pedal to the medal when it comes to blockchain technologies, scant details have been officially confirmed by Facebook. This secrecy has led to rampant speculation regarding the blockchain arm’s long-term ambitions. At a Facebook event specifically targeted at the crypto industry, an anonymous attendee purportedly told Cheddar that the firm intends to launch a “decentralized digital currency.”

Many immediately disregarded this gossip, with cynics going into throes about how absurd such an offering would be. Yet, according to a Bloomberg report, which cited those familiar with the matter, this unexpected hearsay could be, in fact, true.

Sources: Facebook To Launch Stablecoin For WhatsApp

Sources claimed that Facebook, which has taken a beating in late-2018’s stock market pullback, intends to launch a U.S. dollar-tied stablecoin for WhatsApp, a multinational messaging (IM) platform owned by the social media conglomerate. Facebook intends to allow the cryptocurrency, which remains unnamed, to be transferred directly through the WhatsApp client as a way to transact value globally. The people said that the American tech juggernaut intends to target India’s remittance market first, which amounted to $69 billion in 2017, before expanding worldwide.

Bloomberg added that Facebook has been hesitant to divulge the venture, as it remains metaphorical lightyears away from releasing the product. More specifically, the firm is reportedly struggling with finding a way to formally custody the underlying USD, along with how to run with the proposed product.

While Facebook representatives could neither deny nor confirm the reports, this news spread like wildfire, subsequently prompting a response from leading crypto commentators. Hasu, an independent cryptocurrency researcher infamous for bashing BitMEX, noted that he/she predicts that the colloquially-dubbed “Facebookcoin” will have a profound impact on overarching markets.

The researcher, who sports 8,300 followers on Twitter, exclaimed that the initiative will “do more for developing markets than all [crypto assets] combined have done so far.” Hasu elaborated that a stablecoin, not a natively issued coin, is “[obviously] the right choice,” as Bitcoin (BTC), while a “superior form of property,” can’t currently compete in day-to-day transfers of value.

Related Reading: Messari CEO: Killer Use Case For Bitcoin Is Still Money, Digital Gold

Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano echoed this bullish outlook on the asset, drawing attention to the fact that in India alone, WhatsApp is present on the devices of 200 million consumers. Pompliano, the founder of Morgan Creek Digital and an anti-centralization advocate, claimed that if the rumors are bonafide, Facebook could easily bring cryptocurrencies to the mainstream — just like that.

Even Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, CEO of Binance, took a crack at lauding Facebook for its purported offering. Zhao asserted that “there [isn’t] a reason for IM apps not to issue their own utility token,” touching on the fact that such products, only if implemented correctly, will be a net benefit to both the social media platform and the cryptosphere at large.

CZ added that early movers, whether it be Facebook, LINE, or Telegram in the context of IM-related cryptocurrencies, will get a substantial leg up over stragglers. As such, it would be advantageous for firms backing IM platforms to begin crypto implementation immediately, rather than later, as it is illogical to penetrate a market when hegemony is already well established.

Skeptics Critical Of Facebook-backed Crypto

Although pundits like Pomp and CZ have praised Facebook’s newfound push for crypto development, some took the stablecoin rumors with boatloads of cynicism.

Angus Crespigny, a New York-based cryptocurrency infrastructure investor, noted that Facebook’s foray into this industry could devalue the words “crypto” and “blockchain.” Rob “Crypto Bobby” Paone, a growth advisor at AirSwap and well-known media personality, joked that decentralization — crypto’s underlying raison d’etre — will be truly encapsulated with a Facebook-led stablecoin.  This sarcastic quip was echoed throughout the sardonic corners of the cryptocurrency community, as Facebook has recently been lambasted for its apparent inability to be responsible with consumer data.

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Crypto Assets Won’t Be Classified As Securities With Proposed U.S. Bill

Since Bitcoin (BTC) was formally classified as a pseudo-commodity, crypto investors have been pestering regulators, namely the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), about how their favorite cryptocurrencies stack up. Ethereum (ETH), in its “current decentralized state,” was hinted at being in the same boat as BTC. But for a majority of other cryptocurrencies, primarily those issued via initial coin offerings (ICOs), pundits have hinted that they can be classified as securities.

SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton, for instance, recently took to CNBC and Coindesk’s Consensus Invest conference to state that while ICOs can be an effective way to build war chests, such efforts should adhere to traditional securities laws.

This de facto classification has led to tumult in the token subset, as made apparent by the recent crackdowns on AirFox and Paragon, two projects that raised funds by the way of a token sale, and EtherDelta, a popular decentralized exchange that facilitates the trading of Ethereum-based ERC-20 tokens.

Lawmakers Want The U.S. To Become Leaders In Crypto

Yet, an exclusive report from CNBC’s Kate Rooney indicates that on Thursday, two American congressmen have introduced a bill that would turn the regulatory tide in crypto’s favor. Per Rooney, the so-called “Token Taxonomy Act,” headed by Warren Davidson of Ohio and Darren Soto of Florida, will disallow the SEC from classifying fully-fledged “digital tokens (crypto assets)” as securities.

Speaking in a statement on the matter, Davidson noted:

“In the early days of the internet, Congress passed legislation that provided certainty and resisted the temptation to over-regulate the market. Our intent is to achieve a similar win for America’s economy and for American leadership in this innovative space.”

CNBC did not specify when the bill, likely the first of its kind, will be run through governmental proceedings. Yet, many crypto diehards have faith in the bill, which is slated to discredit the regulatory uncertainty that has plagued this industry in recent memory.

And while cynics are skeptical that this act will succeed, the joint effort from Davidson and Soto likely already have the support from a number of fellow congressmen. As reported by NewsBTC previously, Colorado’s Jared Polis and California’s Gavin Newsom, two forward-minded, pro-Bitcoin politicians, were elected into office in America’s most recent midterms, which were finalized in early-November. Newsom was one of the world’s first political incumbents to accept Bitcoin donations, while Polis actively heads pro-blockchain efforts.

While two is far from a crowd, the recent elections of Polis and Newsom, coupled with the advent of the “Token Taxonomy Act,” could indicate that once 2019 hits, the crypto industry will begin its journey to a clear status in regulators’ eyes.

This unexpected move comes after talk ramped up regarding XRP’s status in the regulatory realm, as rumors have hinted that Ripple’s go-to asset will be listed on Coinbase if XRP is formally classified as a non-security.

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